VIRGINIA

Daycare employees at Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall accused of assault

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Three child care workers at a center at Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall face federal charges after a parent complained about one of them yelling at children. But the accusations go much deeper than that.

Following the complaint, Army officials installed surveillance cameras at the temporary child development center, catching the alleged assaults on camera.

The assaults are said to have occurred in Aug. and Sept. and involved children as young as 18 months.

Rebecca Smallwood-Briscoe, 57, of Oxon Hill is charged with five counts of assault. Federal court documents says she pushed and pinched 2-year-olds and "pulled a 2-year-old boy across the floor by one leg several times." The court papers go on to say she "hit the face/chin area of a 2-year-old boy with her fist."

Sharon Blakeney of Seat Pleasant, Md. is accused of hitting "another 2-year-old boy in the head" and holding "a white, sticky rodent trap full of bugs right next to his face." Blakeney faces four counts of assault.

Thirty-year-old Tonya Fagan-Clarke of Woodbridge is charged with two counts of assault. According to court documents, she roughly grabbed "a boy's arm resulting in him falling to the floor" and "picked up an 18-month-old girl by the arm and proceeded to drop her on her stomach."

News of the arrests was unsettling to parents like Lauren Dillon of Arlington.

"It's awful, obviously. People trust the caregivers with their children, and it's terrible that that trust is violated," Dillon said.

The Joint Base said Wednesday military police launched an investigation as soon as the allegations surfaced, adding " We are fully committed to protecting out community, especially our children."

All three women are charged with misdemeanor assault. They're due to appear in federal court Dec. 19.

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