Child care slap leads to charges against Saginaw womanA licensed child care provider from Saginaw said she “lost it” with a 10-month-old boy she was caring for and hit him, leading to criminal charges Friday in St. Louis County District Court
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
A licensed child care provider from Saginaw said she “lost it” with a 10-month-old boy she was caring for and hit him, leading to criminal charges Friday in St. Louis County District Court.
Anne Elizabeth Hjelle, 42, is charged with third-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child under 4 years of age. St. Louis County Social Services issued an immediate 90-day suspension of Hjelle’s child care license.
According to the criminal complaint, Hjelle called a St. Louis County child care licensor Wednesday and reported that she had slapped the child on the cheek causing a mark to remain. She said the boy was fussy and crying during his nap time and she “lost it.”
A St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office investigator went to the hospital where the parents of the boy had taken the victim. The investigator spotted several black-and-blue bruises to the boy’s face, as well as deep and distinct bruising on his right cheek and the right side of his forehead, along with the upper and lower cheeks. The child also had a deep red bruise to the upper inside portion of his right ear and scratches and bruising to his left cheek bone, just below the eye, and a 3- to 4-inch-long, deep red bruise along the left side of his neck, the complaint said.
A message left at Hjelle’s home wasn’t returned Friday. The parents of the boy couldn’t be reached for comment.
The child’s mother told the investigator that her son had been attending the Hjelle Family Daycare two days a week since March. She said she received a phone call at her job Wednesday and Hjelle began apologizing to her about slapping her son and causing a mark on his face.
The mother went to the home to pick up her son and was shocked by what she saw, the complaint said. The mother told the investigator that Hjelle apologized and said it had never happened before.
According to the complaint, Hjelle said she was in shock and disbelief that she had hit the boy as hard as she did. She estimated that she used about 60 percent of her power. She said she had been providing child care for four years and this had never happened before.
An examining doctor said the boy had some deep bruising but otherwise appeared to be OK. The boy’s mother reported that evening that the child was having trouble sleeping and was whimpering throughout the night.
The sheriff’s investigator read Hjelle her constitutional rights, and she agreed to talk to him. She said she tried to put the boy down for a nap at 2:30 p.m. He was extremely fussy, and as she turned him from his stomach onto his back, she slapped him “really hard” with her left hand on the right side of his face, the complaint alleges.
The investigator said Hjelle said she only struck the boy once, but seemed somewhat unsure as to if that was truly the case. She said she covered the boy’s mouth slightly to try to stop him from yelling and also had pinched him on his neck while turning him over. She said she might have grabbed him by the neck.
When asked if she had any idea why the incident happened, Hjelle allegedly told the investigator that she believed she had not bonded with the boy as she had with other children she cares for because she saw him only two days a week and not five days like the other kids.
Hjelle was released without bail and ordered to attend future court appearances. Her next hearing is scheduled for May 27.