ST. LOUIS (CNN Newsource) – Two educators in Illinois are facing battery charges for reportedly abusing two daycare students. Officials say the boys were stripped naked and forced to stand in a closet as a form of punishment.
The facility is called the SIUE East St. Louis early headstart program. Mary Agbehia, 27, from Edwardsville, who was a teacher, and Shavonda Willis, 41 from Fairview Heights, who was a teacher’s aide, both face one count of aggravated battery and one count of unlawful restraint.
The women are charged with making two five-year-old boys each stand alone in a closet naked at the daycare as a form of discipline.
One of the unlawful restraints allegedly happened on March 13th, the other between February 1st and March 13th.
The aggravated battery charge against Agbehia accuses her of taking off the shirt of one of the boys.
The aggravated battery count against Willis charges her with placing an object against the skin of a three-year-old girl and pretending to give her an injection.
The case broke when another child told his mom about what was happening.
Chief Kevin Schmoll, of the Southern Illinois University Police, said, “This misbehavior, most four or five-year-old do it at that age, not listening, talking and that’s just the form of discipline they chose to use, which is totally inappropriate.”
Interim Program Director Timothy Staples said, “I was with all of the staff, they’ve been really shocked, can’t really understand.”
SIUE Director of Human Resources Robert Thumith said, “I can’t explain it. We’ve done everything within our control in terms of training, documenting training, documenting attestation to codes of ethics, codes of conduct, handbooks, all which prescribed behavior which is prohibited by head start regulations, even common sense.”
Neither of the two suspects are in custody yet, but both educators are now on paid leave from the program.