Three women who previously worked at two church-run daycare centers in Alabama were charged with child abuse after their arrest on Monday.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Susan Baker, Leah Livingston, and Alice Sorrels were each charged with one count of felony child abuse and failure to report child abuse. The women, who do not have lawyers, were all detained at the Autauga Metro Jail with cash-only bonds of $55,000. They face a maximum of 10 years imprisonment each for the Class C felony charged against them. While only a shorter sentence for their failure to report child abuse since it is classified as a misdemeanor.
It Happened At Journey Church
Baker, Livingston, and Sorrels worked at the East Memorial Baptist Church Day Care before it closed months ago. They moved to Journey Church of the River Region, which is located in Sheila Boulevard, where the alleged abuse took place. Journey's daycare provides preparatory kindergarten classes for children six weeks old to K4.
Chief Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson of the 19th Judicial Circuit told the Montgomery Advertiser that the three women are accused of victimizing seven children younger than two years old. Robinson stressed there could be more victims--as many as 11--since they expect more charges will be filed.
The assistant district attorney cleared, however, that they are not aware whether the three women also had victims in East Memorial and have invited parents from the said daycare to ask their children if anything of the sort happened to them.
In line with this, the district attorney's office has called for a review of the case with the Autauga County Grand Jury to give leeway for more victims to come to the open. The district office reasoned that they need to know if it would be necessary to expand the investigation. The jury closed deliberations on the case last March and would likely begin new deliberations by mid-May.
"We are looking at more charges from these victims and possibly other victims being discovered. Some of the current victims may have been abused by multiple defendants. This may be a situation where we will need a spreadsheet to keep the victims, charges and defendants straight," Robinson said.
Robinson shared how appalled he was in knowing the case, especially after discovering the ages of the children victimized by the three women. He found the matter sickening for it seemed like something out of a horror story.
"These victims can't talk, they can't walk. They can't go home to their parents and tell them something was going on," Robinson stressed.
Journey Church Officials' Speedy Response
As per Robinson, the three suspects were arrested after a potential employee of Journey's daycare was observing one of the victims after noticing actions that concerned her. The potential employee then informed Journey's management on the matter. The management then got in touch with the Prattville Police who looked into the center's surveillance video footage. The footage showed the alleged abuse of the children.
In line with the charges, Journey's church leaders and daycare management officials have cooperated with the investigation from the very beginning. The three women have been terminated from work also due to the matter as a preventive measure of protecting the children. Robinson commended the church and its daycare management for doing everything one would expect them to for the investigation.