Parents: Video shows "monster" abusing toddler at daycare
BRADENTON (FOX 13) - Six long, agonizing minutes changed everything for mother of two Danielle Lavalle.
"You trust these people," she exclaimed. "I feel like I failed as a parent, as a mother."
Last October, Danielle and her husband Michael decided to take their son to Smarty Pants Preschool, a daycare in Bradenton. Others had recommended it, and they did their own research, but it wasn't long before they began seeing signs that something wasn't right.
"I just kind of brushed it off thinking he's a 2-year-old; he's clumsy, he falls," explained LaValle.
Then came a shocking and disturbing surveillance video. Mantatee sheriff's investigators say it shows daycare worker Dallas Ofria abusing the LaValles' son.
Investigators say Dallas appeared angry and frustrated while changing the boy's diaper. The video shows her lifting the toddler's legs towards the head, essentially bending the baby in half. Then, detectives say, Dallas put most of her body weight on the child. It went on for six horrifying minutes.
"Literally all his pressure is on his neck and she keeps forcing herself down on him. You have to be some type of animal to do that," offered Michael LaValle.
The signs of abuse were evident. Dallas was arrested and charged with child abuse. Smarty Pants Daycare fired her, but that was it.
Danielle and Michael say they didn't get an apology or an explanation for the five-hour delay in reporting the abuse to them. "They neglected my son as well," complained Danielle LaValle.
Lisa says their little boy is now in therapy and is slowly beginning to trust again, but it hasn't been easy.
The lead director of the daycare, Jillian Serra, said the moment she learned of the abuse she immediately called authorities, including the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Serra says Smarty Pants Daycare has been operating for 11 years, caring for 250 kids without any problems. She says she is saddened by what happened but she called it an isolated incident.
As for Danielle and Michael, they're warning to other parents comes from their own personal anguish. "She's a monster she deserves to go to jail, " added LaValle.