Crime

Daycare worker charged with child abuse after cops say video shows her dragging children

A former daycare worker at a Venice daycare facility faces three charges of child abuse after Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office detectives said she dragged and carried three children by their arms and pushed them to the floor.

The sheriff’s office declined to name or provide an address for the Venice daycare facility, saying the victims opted into Marsy’s Law, which, in part, expanded the rights of crime victims.

Marsy’s Law, Amendment 6 on the ballot, was passed by Florida voters in the November election.

Because the daycare has within 20 to 30 children enrolled, it could identify the victims in the investigation, and the sheriff’s office is not naming the establishment to comply with their interpretation of Marsy’s Law, said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kaitlyn Perez.

None of the children suffered major injuries, according to the sheriff’s office.

The incident was reported to the sheriff’s office by a witness on Tuesday. Deputies interviewed the daycare’s director the next day, and the director told them the employee in question, 26-year-old Jamie Smithmyer, had been fired.

Within a few minutes, surveillance video captured three incidents in one classroom, detailed in the probable cause affidavit.

In the first, deputies said video showed Smithmyer yelling at children sitting on a carpeted area. One child was playing with another child when she grabbed the boy by his left arm, pulling him off his feet, and dragged him to a table where she allegedly forcibly put him on the ground.

A second incident reportedly showed children lined up to go outside when one of the children moves forward in the line. Smithmyer allegedly shoved the child hard enough that he fell to the ground. When he stood up, he was rubbing his shoulder. She grabbed the boy by the arm, lifting him off his feet, and dragged him to the carpet and again forcibly put him on the floor.

A third child walked over to Smithmyer crying, and she shoved the girl back. The girl continued to cry. Smithmyer forcefully pulled the girl forward by her arm, then pulled her back and dragged her to the carpet where she tossed the crying girl on the floor.

Smithmyer was fired immediately, according to the sheriff’s office.

When she was confronted about the incidents by the daycare director, Smithmyer said she was stressed and overwhelmed.

“When told the Department of Children and Families would be contacted she stated to the director, ‘I don’t give a (expletive) who you call,’ ” according to the affidavit.

She is being held in the Sarasota County jail without bond.

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