Plum Child Care Abuse Case Moves to Common Pleas Court
During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, charges against three women involved in an alleged child abuse incident at the Genesis Child Care facility in Plum were held for common pleas court.
Three women accused of being involved in a child abuse case at the Genesis Child Care at Pittsburgh East Community Church will go before a common pleas court judge.
During a three-and-a-half hour preliminary hearing at Plum District Justice Linda Zucco's courtroom on Wednesday, Eileen Marie Andrews, 44, a former worker at the facility—it has since closed—was held on two counts of simple assault and four counts of endangering the welfare of children. Childcare Director Angela Marie Russo, 49, and Director of Children's Services Terry Lynn Bachner, 43, were each held on two counts of endangering the welfare of children and two counts of failure to report abuse.
A formal arraignment will be held Oct. 5 at common pleas court.
Attorneys Robert Crisanti and Mike Witherel, representing Russo and Bachner, respectively, said the endangering the welfare of children charges against their clients didn't apply because they didn't directly supervise the children. They also said the charges of failure to file reports wasn't appropriate because that applies directly to schools, not daycares.
According to testimony from witnesses—former Genesis employees Kelly Visnic, Ashley Adamski and Ashley Lovas—Andrews physically abused children at the facility on more than one occasion.
Visnic said she witnessed three incidents from March 2011 to January 2012—Adamski witnessed one of those.
Visnic said in March, she saw Andrews pull a young girl from a scooter by the arm and "her feet were dangling." Visnic testified that Andrews repeatedly told the girl she "fell off the scooter" immediately after the incident. Visnic said she then brought it to Russo's attention.
The girl's mother, whose name is being withheld from this article to protect the identity of the child, also testified her daughter's elbow was dislocated due to the incident and continues to dislocate to this day. She said she was told by the daycare employees and her daughter that the young girl fell off the scooter. It wasn't until she was contacted by Plum police earlier this year that she heard about the alleged abuse.
In a second incident in November, Visnic and Adamski said they saw Andrews grab a boy by the face with both hands and lift him off the ground.
"I was shocked," Adamski testified. "I immediately grabbed him and told (Andrews), 'That is enough.'"
Adamski said she took the boy to Russo's office and told her what happened.
Adamski said she followed up with Bachner about the incident in December 2011 during her employee review. She also said she brought it to Bachner's attention once more when she put in her two-weeks' notice in February.
Shortly after that, Visnic said Andrews grabbed the same boy by the hood of his snow suit, leaving a bleeding injury from the zipper on his neck. The boy was taken to Russo's office and he left home early that day, Visnic said.
"I was told his mom was told it was an accident," she said.
Lovas, an aide in Andrews' classroom, witnessed four separate incidents from September to December 2011.
The first involved Andrews kicking a young girl's leg onto her mat during nap time one day in September. That same day, Andrews allegedly picked up another girl and "slammed her" on to the opposite end of her mat when she wouldn't stop talking.
About two weeks later, Lovas said she witnessed Andrews pick up a young girl's mat while she was sitting on it, causing the girl to fall backward. Those incidents all were reported to Russo, according to Lovas.
In November, Lovas testified she saw Andrews smack a boy on his behind and pull him down as he tried to reach something on a table.
"I walked into (Russo's) office and said, 'Something else happened. I've had enough," and went to talk to (Bachner)," Lovas said.
After quitting about two weeks later, Lovas said she contacted the Office of Children, Youth and Families of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
Attorney Duke George, Andrews' lawyer, said the charges of simple assault don't apply because the act would have had to have been intentional, and many times, children needed to be disciplined.
"A number of witnesses called it assault based on their perception," he said noting that the CYF investigation was unfounded. "Perception is not an issue in this case."
However, prosecutor Patrick Schulte, assistant district attorney said that's not relevant.
"Unfounded does not equal that it didn't happen. All it means is that a child is no longer in danger," he said, noting that the daycare permanently closed its doors in April.
Schulte referred to Andrews as a "bully" and said Russo and Bachner also were responsible because they didn't take the action necessary to prevent the injuries from continuing to occur.