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Child care workers at Fort Myer base charged with assaulting toddlers

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Local,Virginia,Crime,Scott McCabe

Two child care workers at the Fort Myer military base have been charged with assaulting children under their supervision.

Federal prosecutors began investigating in September after a parent complained to the school administrators at the Child Development Center on the Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall about a caregiver yelling at children in the classroom for 2-year-olds.

Administrators reviewed the surveillance video taken from the classroom on Sept. 26, and allegedly witnessed a number of acts of misconduct by the caregivers -- including hitting, pinching and kneeing. One worker poked a rodent trap into the face of a toddler, court document said.

The video was passed along to criminal investigators on the base and forwarded to federal prosecutors, who requested 30 days of surveillance video taken in that classroom and the adjoining classroom that are often shared by the same caretakers.

Law enforcement officials charged caregivers Sharon Blakeney, 47, of Seat Pleasant, with four counts of simple assault of a minor, and Tonya Fagan-Clarke, 30, of Woodbridge, with a single count of simple assault of a minor -- a crime that carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. They were charged last week, and ordered to appear in Alexandria federal court Dec. 19.

According to the charging documents:

• Blakeney hit a 2-year-old boy's hands and picked him up by one arm to place him in the corner. She roughly pushed her knee into the child's back, then three minutes later picked him up by both arms and carried him to another part of the room.

• Blakeney approached the same boy, who was sitting on a coach, and pinched him in the stomach.

• She then held the boy down, and held a sticky rodent trap full of bugs up to his face.

• Blakeney used her foot to lift the cot of a sleeping 2-year-old girl, and when the child sat up, she pushed the child's head to force her to lie back down.

Fagan-Clarke is accused of picking up an 18-month-old girl by her arm and dropping her on her stomach, and rough-handling a boy by grabbing his arm resulting in him falling to the floor.

It's unclear whether the women are still employed by the school in Arlington. School administrators could not be reached Tuesday.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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