AUBURNDALE, Fla. (WFLA) – The former daycare employee facing charges of child abuse in Polk County has a criminal record dating back to 2012.
Michelle Wilkerson, 36, of Winter Haven, has been arrested several times for battery-related charges, according to an inquiry on the Polk County Sheriff’s Office website.
Auburndale police say she was arrested for trespassing, resisting arrest and battery on law enforcement on the same April day she applied to work at the Lit’le Bloodhound Preschool in Auburndale.
She was out on bond when she was arrested Tuesday on five counts of child abuse related to incidents at the daycare.
“Devastated. I really am,” said Lit’le Bloodhound director Michelle Oar.
Oar said she was not aware of Wilkderson’s record when the daycare hired her.
“We did the FBI check, we do reference checks. This was not seen. I mean, people gave us good references on her. Nothing was on her background,” she said.
8 On Your Side spoke with the grandmother of one of the five young alleged victims from Lit’le Bloodhound.
“She was being pulled across the room by one arm with her feet dangling on the ground. They had her arm pulled up behind her back and her hand over her mouth, holding her mouth so she couldn’t cry,” said the grandmother, who did not want to be identified.
Her granddaughter is 3 years old. The victims range in age from 2 to 4.
She said her son has been contacted by lawyers and intends to file a lawsuit to get Lit’le Bloodhound closed down.
“It was where they were safe. This was supposed to be where she would be ok,” she said.
Auburndale police began an investigation in conjunction with Lit’le Bloodhound Preschool on July 31.
Auburndale police say Wilkerson acknowledged the surveillance videos “look bad,” but told police she was trying to stop the kids from biting each other.
“But in the video, it shows that there were no children biting each other. She physically battered two children,” said Lt. Andy Moore, with Auburndale Police Department. “There were physical injuries in the form of bruises which we were able to match on the video with the preschool worker.”
“You do not put your hands on a child. That is not allowed here,” said Oar.
Wilkerson’s first appearance hearing on the child abuse charges was held Wednesday morning during a pre-scheduled, unrelated court hearing.
A judge ordered her held without bond.