UPDATED: Three Charged in Plum Child Abuse Probe
The charges come after repeated complaints of abuse at Genesis Child Care in Plum.
Eileen Marie Andrews, 44, a worker at the facility, was arrested on Monday and charged with two counts of simple assault and four counts of endangering the welfare of children. Childcare Director Angela Marie Russo, 49, was arrested Wednesday. Russo and Director of Children's Services Terry Lynn Bachner, 43, were charged with two counts each of endangering the welfare of children and failure to report abuse.
Genesis Child Care closed its doors on April 20, after the complaints surfaced and police acknowledged an investigation.
The criminal complaints paint a picture of Andrews as someone who regularly abused children physically, roughing them up and passing off injuries as accidents under the cover of negligent supervisors. Witnesses told police Russo and Bachner failed to discipline Andrews or notify authorities when multiple employees reported abuse.
Two employees, Ashley Adamski and Kelly Visnic, told police they saw Andrews grab a three-year-old boy by the face with both hands and lift him more than two feet off the ground last November. Later that day, Adamski said, Andrews apologized to her, saying “I got flustered.”
In another incident, employees Ashley Lovas and Christina Maruk told police, Andrews lifted a three-year-old girl and tossed her onto a floor mat because she was talking during quiet time.
The parents of that child told an investigator their daughter’s arm had been dislocated three times since August of last year.
Neither Russo nor Bachner documented numerous employee complaints that Andrews was abusing children, according to the criminal complaint. Russo was hired by Genesis in 2007 and promoted to director in 2010. Bachner had been employed since 1996.
Maruk told police that Russo instructed her not to speak of any incidents she witnessed when the Department of Public Welfare and Office of Children, Youth and Families began investigating. Russo sat in on Maruk’s interview with an investigator, Maruk said, interrupting an investigator’s question by saying, “Remember I asked you if you saw any abuse and you said no?”
Visnic, Lovas and Adamski had left the company by the time police interviewed them. All cited Russo’s and Bachner’s failure to address complaints when leaving.
Both Russo and Bachner told police they were aware of complaints but had not taken any disciplinary action or notified authorities.
Lee Kircher, senior pastor of the church, issued a statement to reporters by email Thursday night and said the church has no further comment at the moment.
“Our hearts and our prayers go out to the children, families and employees of the Genesis Child Care Center who have been affected by the alleged incidents and the closing of the center on April 20,” Kircher wrote.
“Even though the daycare center has closed, we maintain our strong commitment to build a next generation church and to make a positive difference in the lives of the hundreds of children who attend Pittsburgh East Community Church with their families every weekend.”
Preliminary hearings for Andrews, Bachner and Russo are scheduled for May 30 at Plum's District Court.