She pleaded not guilty and was released on a $5000 bond.
A Florida preschool teacher is facing felony charges after police claim she beat a 4-year-old child on the school playground repeatedly. Ashley Richards, 32, was arrested and charged with third-degree child abuse on Wednesday, reports PEOPLE.
A witness allegedly heard cries coming from the playground at KinderCare Learning Center in Dunedin, Florida, according to a press release from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The release said, "The witness observed Richards yelling at the victim and repeatedly punching the child with both an open and closed fist to the back and side of the head. Richards was also observed pushing the child to the ground and yelling 'Do you want me to hit you?' The incident was captured on the witness' cell phone."
Since March 2021, Richards has worked as a preschool teacher at KinderCare Learning Center. According to the witness, Richards also shoved the 4-year-old to the ground. The witness then began filming the event on her cellphone, reports Tampa Bay Times.
According to the arrest affidavit, investigators interrogated the 4-year-old child, who stated that he had gotten in trouble for fighting with his sibling. Authorities interrogated Richards. She denied assaulting or punching the youngster. She revealed to deputies that she covered the 4-year-mouth old's when he laughed at her.
Breaking news from @BBPD: "Ms. Amelia," the daycare teacher arrested on a child abuse charge last week, faces another charge for reportedly scratching another little girl in her care https://t.co/H3g2vvsWHj pic.twitter.com/bcczPklutW— Olivia Hitchcock (@ohitchcock) February 12, 2018
KinderCare public relations manager Colleen Moran released a statement that read, "The teacher's alleged actions do not reflect who we are or the training we provide our teachers. We are working with the police to determine what may or may not have happened. In the meantime, the teacher involved is on administrative leave until further notice."
Richards has not yet pleaded guilty. She was released on $5,000 bail. There is no counsel allowed to speak on her behalf in court documents. The teacher was placed on administrative leave "until further notice," according to Kindercare Learning Center, before being fired amid an ongoing inquiry.
Kindercare Learning Companies said in a statement, "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the children in our care. The teacher’s alleged actions do not reflect who we are or the training we provide our teachers. We are working with the police to determine what may or may not have happened," reports Fox News.
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Lourdes Balduque