Maldonado, 29, and Ferra, 50, were arrested last week and charged with child abuse and conspiracy following a four month police investigation.
Authorities have not said how they believe the baby was injured, though they alleged in a press release on Thursday that the pair tried to cover up the extent of the boy’s wounds. Medical personnel who treated the 8-month-old have said his injuries are consistent with physical abuse.
The Kiddie Academy in Rancho Cucamonga where Maldonado and Ferra were employed has not commented on the charges. Spokespeople for the Kiddie Academy national brand noted that the Rancho Cucamonga location is an “independently owned and operated” franchise.
Investigation Finds Abuse at Daycare
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began in September when police were called to the Loma Linda University Medical Center, where an 8-month-old Kiddie Academy student was being treated for skull fractures. Hospital staff told responding officers that the wounds were consistent with physical abuse.
So traumatic were the child’s injuries that he was being cared for in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. It’s not clear if the child was checked into the hospital by his parents or by daycare staff.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, Rudie Megan Maldonado and Felicia Ann Ferra were arrested for conspiring to conceal the victim’s injuries and neglect of the victim’s well-being,” police wrote.
A source “close to the situation” told News Nation that the baby was still recovering from his injuries as of Friday.
Speaking anonymously, several parents of current and former Kiddie Academy enrollees told local reporters that they had seen or had heard of questionable incidents at the daycare in the past.
One claimed to have seen “a teacher pulling a little girl around the classroom by her leg.”
Another said their child “appeared frightened” when it was time to be dropped off at the Kiddie Academy. That parent also said they had seen “as many as 25 children” left unattended at the daycare, including babies laid on the floor unsupervised without blankets or pillows.
“We are aware of the serious allegations against an assistant teacher and the director of the Kiddie Academy of Rancho Cucamonga, California. We are committed to working with the franchise owners to ensure full cooperation with local authorities,” a company spokesperson wrote.
“As an organization, there is nothing more important than creating environments where a child’s intellectual, emotional and physical development flourishes. We remain committed to ensuring all franchisees maintain our world-class standards.”
Rudie Megan Maldonado, Felicia Anna Ferra Charged
San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies said that Maldonado was arrested Wednesday and booked at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino. Ferra reportedly turned herself in on Thursday.
Both women were charged with felony child abuse and criminal conspiracy of the same. Under California penal law, each could face up to six years in state prison if convicted of the child abuse charge. The conspiracy count could also carry a six-year sentence.
Investigators have not detailed the alleged conspiracy by Maldonado and Ferra, though they’ve accused the pair of trying to “conceal the victim’s injuries” and the “neglect of [his] well-being” that led to his hospitalization.
The women each posted their $100,000 bail and have since been released. It was not immediately clear Monday when the daycare workers are due back in court.
Police believe there may be more victims among the student body at the Rancho Cucamonga Kiddie Academy, and the investigation is still ongoing.