A woman working at Children of America daycare in Oak Creek is facing a felony charge of recklessly abusing a child who received two arm fractures while under her care.
If convicted, Stephanie McPherson, 34, could face up to $50,000 in fines and 15 years in prison, according to a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
According to the complaint, Angela Hall dropped her 5-month-old daughter off at about 6:45 a.m. Oct. 3, 2016, at the Children of America daycare, 8870 S. Mayhew Drive, with the primary caregiver who had been watching the girl.
Later that day, Hall returned to pick up her child, who was lying in a bouncy seat. She was informed that when one of the employees tried to pick the child up, she started to cry. When Hall picked up her daughter she cried but stopped once she was in her car seat and not moving, according to the criminal complaint.
The infant cried again when she was taken out of the car seat at home, but Hall rocked her to sleep and laid her on the couch. Once she awoke and Hall touched her right arm, the child "screamed in pain," according to the complaint.
Hall took her daughter to Children's Hospital, where she was diagnosed with two fractures. The complaint states the fractures would have been extremely painful, and the child would have immediately cried out which would alert a caregiver something was wrong.
"An appropriately concerned caregiver would have notified family and sought medical care," the complaint states.
The cause was suggested to be bending, twisting or yanking of the arm, the complaint states, adding that, without a plausible explanation, the injuries indicate physical abuse.
In-depth at the daycare
The girl's primary caregiver who checked her in that day said she took the child to an infant room and held her for a while where the girl eventually took a nap, waking later to play with toys. The woman left the room a for a break, stating that when she left, the child seemed to be happy and having a good morning. There were three new babies in the room along with Hall's daughter, along with another worker and McPherson, the complaint said.
When the woman returned from break an hour later, she picked up Hall's daughter who was "crying and wet." The woman changed the child's diaper and was told by the other worker who had been in the room with McPherson that the infant wouldn't eat, and McPherson wasn't going to feed her if she was that upset.
The woman who checked the child in tried to feed her, but was met with loud screams.
According to the complaint, the child did play on an "exersaucer" later in the day and also played on the floor. Later, she took a nap in a swing, not wanting to go in the crib.
An Oak Creek detective spoke with McPherson on Oct. 4, who said she didn't notice the child's demeanor in the morning because she was focused on new parents at the daycare. She said around 11 or 11:15 a.m. she was feeding the girl, holding her in the rocking chair, bouncing her around and wiggling her body.
According to the complaint, the girl was laughing at first but then started to cry, steadily getting louder.
McPherson said in the complaint that she thought it was a hunger cry, however, when presented with the findings from Children's Hospital, she said it made sense that she was hurt. McPherson explained she puts her arms on "their arms" and dances with the kids. She said, while likely not realizing it then, the child started crying when she was twisting her.
"I guess I did it too hard and didn't realize it," McPherson said, according to the complaint.
McPherson said she has worked at Children of America for five years and understands the difference between cries of hunger, sadness and pain. She also disclosed she probably had a breakdown dealing with two to three new parents waiting in the hall with many questions.
McPherson is scheduled to be in court Feb. 17 for a scheduling conference, according to online court records.