Complaint: Edgewood day care employee pushed children, yanked limbs, covered faces with blanket

Posted at 2:10 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 17:58:59-05

EDGEWOOD, Ky. -- An Edgewood day care employee pushed children, yanked them by their arms and covered one child's face with a blanket to make him sleep, a police detective wrote in a criminal complaint filed late last year.

The employee, Anne Marie Ogonek, is charged with third-degree criminal abuse, a misdemeanor.

Parents of a 14-month-old boy reported abuse at Rainbow Child Care Center in mid-September, Edgewood Detective Julie Marzheuser wrote in the complaint.

Kathy McFarland, the day care center director, told the parents Ogonek covered their son's head with a blanket "in an attempt to get him to nap."

Video footage showed Ogonek "forced him to stay laying (sic) down with the blanket covering his head and face by holding down with her hand on the back of his head and neck area," the complaint states.

The detective also wrote that when the boy tried to move, Ogonek pulled his legs out from under him.

"Although there is no sound on the surveillance video, it was apparent (the boy) was crying by his body movements and visibly shaking," Marzheuser wrote in her criminal complaint.

The parents removed their son from the center's care.

Marzheuser reviewed eight days' worth of surveillance footage, her complaint said, and saw "numerous other incidents" involving Ogonek, the 14-month-old boy and several other toddlers.

The detective said footage showed Ogonek "roughly grabbing and pulling the children by one arm/hand across the room, aggressively flipping the children over on their mats by their arms and legs, roughly grabbing and pulling them into 'time out' and leaving them in 'time out' for an excessive period of time" including one child left for an hour and 10 minutes.

Ogonek also dumped a child out of a chair, pushed a child away with her foot, left one child in a high chair for nearly an hour and forced several children to lay down with their heads covered with a blanket, Marzheuser wrote.

McFarland told the detective that Ogonek is no longer employed at Rainbow Child Care because of what she's accused of doing.

WCPO has attempted to contact Ogonek for comment. Online court records show she's scheduled for an arraignment hearing in Kenton County at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 1.

The center sent a letter to parents Wednesday after WCPO reported on the incident.

"Since learning about the prior incidences, we have developed and implemented an ongoing Quality-Improvement Plan that exceeds state regulations, as well as hired a dedicated Regional Trainer to oversee and support best practices in our schools," the letter states.

A parent said that the center has been transparent, and they've known about the incident since the fall.

Similar cases at Rainbow Child Care

Rainbow Child Care, based in Troy, Michigan, operates 13 facilities in Northern Kentucky for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.

According to state records, seven of its Northern Kentucky facilities have had similar instances of employees being rough with children at naptime and other times during the day; all were captured on surveillance video.

Some of the workers were fired, according to state records.

In some cases, the day care center directors notified the state, leading to the investigation. Records don't specify what prompted the investigation in other cases.

At the seven facilities in question, records show employees were hired without proper background checks.

Parents weren't always notified about incidents involving their children, state records also showed.

Rainbow operates facilities in Ohio and Indiana, as well. The company provided WCPO with the following statement Wednesday:

"The safety and well-being of every child we are privileged to serve is the first priority at Rainbow Child Care Center. As soon as Rainbow was made aware of the situations in our facilities, the families of the children involved were notified and the employees in question were removed from the school and subsequently terminated.

"We have cooperated fully with the authorities during their investigations and will continue to work openly with all appropriate authorities and agencies.

"Additionally, since learning about the incidences, we have developed and implemented an ongoing Quality-Improvement Plan that exceeds the state’s regulations, as well as hired a dedicated Regional Trainer to oversee and support best practices in our schools. We have also worked with State Licensing and hosted parent meetings at certain locations to answer questions and remain transparent.

"Our focus is, and will always be, on the safety of our children. For that reason, Rainbow takes great care in following all state and federal guidelines with regard to our hiring practices and procedures, as well as conducting comprehensive background checks on all employees before they are hired."