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Police: Tallahassee daycare worker seen pulling child by hair, holding child upside down

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Posted at 11:49 AM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 16:48:08-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) — Two daycare workers at Brilliant Minds Daycare in Tallahassee have been arrested after investigators say one was caught on camera abusing several small children while the other did nothing to stop her.

According to court documents, Tallahassee Police responded to a delayed report of child abuse on Feb. 5.

Police say a mother had reported the physical abuse of her daughter by a daycare worker at Brilliant Minds Daycare on Hendrix Road. On Jan. 25, the victim's mother had received a phone call from the daycare director stating that Department of Children and Families were investigating the facility.

Documents say the child's mother also had pictures of red marks that were on the victim's skin back in August 2019. The mother told police that she believed the marks came from the child being grabbed by the arm aggressively.

The mother who initially reported the abuse to DCF also came forward to police, saying that she reported the incident after her child was kicked out of the daycare.

She said she was told a fight broke out at the daycare where her child was reportedly the main aggressor. When she asked why her child was removed, the daycare director gave her a copy of the video "to show [the child's] behavior and justification for removal."

While looking at the video, the mother saw several other things that concerned her and reported the entire incident to DCF.

During the investigation, officers also looked at the surveillance footage that showed the alleged incident.

At the beginning of the video, documents say one of the daycare workers, 24-year-old Joell Williams, was seen holding the victim upside down and allowing the child's head to fall downwards. Investigators say Williams is then seen walking out of the room while carrying the child upside down.

During an interview with officers, Williams claimed she was playing with the child but investigators noted the child's face appeared to be "flushed red and upset" in the video and William's facial expression showed a "sullen almost angry expression."

As the video goes on, a second daycare worker, 22-year-old Stephanie Monday, can be seen alone in a room with 15 small children. At some point, a child walks by with a book when another child tries to take the book away, starting a physical altercation between multiple kids.

In the video, the child who started the fight can be seen hitting several children while trying to grab the book from the child who had the book. While this is happening, investigators say Monday can be seen mouthing "stop" and laughing, but made no attempt to separate the children.

After a while, Monday can be seen grabbing one child by the arm and dragging her away from the others. The fighting continues and one child his hit in the face with the book.

That's when Monday can be seen calling for help and Williams walks in, "forcefully" picking up one child and placing her a different room.

Williams is then seen pushing several children out of the way as she returns to the classroom, even grabbing one by the hair.

"As [one child] walks by Joell, Joell grabs the hair on tip of [the child's] head and closes her hand," the probable cause report states. "Joell uses the grip on [the child's] hair to pull her away from the classroom door."

She's then seen pushing another child away from a door by pushing him on the back of his head and smacking another child on the arm.

When investigators spoke to WIlliams, she said that she was frustrated by the situation and her co-worker and believed this led her to making some "mistakes."

Based on the evidence, Williams and Monday were taken into custody and transported to the Leon County Detention Facility. Williams is being charged with three counts of child cruelty and Monday is being charged with child neglect.

Williams has since gotten out on a $7,500 bond and Monday has been released to pre-trial supervision. Since the start of the investigation, Williams was fired and Monday has been suspended.

As of Monday, an ABC 27 reporter says the facility is still open. We have reached out to Brilliant Minds Daycare for comment and are waiting to hear back.

According to the last inspection done by DCF at the facility, the daycare was cited for non-compliance in several areas on Feb. 6. At least two of those violations were related to personnel records.

One of those complaints said that personnel/volunteer worker records at the daycare didn't include a "CF-FSP 5337 Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Requirements" form, which is supposed to be signed annually. The inspection also stated that employment history verifications were not documented and on file.

The facility is due for a re-inspection by DCF on March 5.

This is a developing story. Stay with ABC 27 News for details.