An investigation by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department has resulted in a charge of simple assault and battery by a former pre-school employee against two children.
Officially charged Sept. 12, the investigation pertains to events two months ago at the Mulberry Child Care and Preschool in Ashburn.
According to police reports, Carie Beth Baker, 32, of Ashburn, is accused of committing two counts of simple assault and battery against two children under the age of 3.
Kraig Troxell, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Department, described simple assault as being "assault that does not involve a weapon or serious injury."
The charge, which relates to events that transpired during school hours in July, was brought to the attention of the Sheriff’s Department by Child Protective Services in August. Since then, the Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the incident.
Baker, who no longer works at the preschool, will appear in court Oct. 24, according to the Juvenile Domestic Relations Court. Listed as a misdemeanor, a guilty conviction could warrant a fine.
THE MULBERRY CHILD CARE and Preschool is a national organization that provides child care during before and after-school programs. Focusing on productive down time, locations offer homework help, computer and reading time and physical activity. According to Jull Eiland, spokesperson for Knowledge Learning Corporation, the parent company of Mulberry Child Care, Mulberry also uses a strict "zero-tolerance" policy against infringements of teacher-student relationships.
"When there is an incident complaint brought to our attention, they immediately bring it to the center director," said Eiland. "If it is determined that inappropriate discipline was used against a child, we suggest that the employee finds a job elsewhere."
While Eiland was unable to comment directly on the events that transpired with Baker, she did provide a general comment about the company policy when employees are charged with a crime against a child.
"When an [charged] employee is no longer with us, it is because it was determined that they used inappropriate discipline."
According to Eiland, no employee to her knowledge has ever been reinstated at Mulberry after being charged with inappropriate discipline — even if later found innocent. This is the result of a strict policy that enforces proper child care.
BAKER WAS RELEASED by a Loudoun magistrate on a personal recognizance bond, which allows her to return home under her own supervision.
"Basically, they don’t see it as a risk, so they release you on your own," said Troxell, explaining the nature of the bond. "They might put some restrictions on you and will expect you to show up at the next hearing."
That hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Juvenile Domestic Relations Court. A public defendant has been assigned to represent Baker.