CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – When parents drop their children off at school and daycares each day, they expect their children to be safe and looked out for.
What should have been a safe environment for a 3-year-old was anything but that.
21-year-old Caleb Staunton is accused of allegedly abusing a 3-year-old child on Wednesday at the Discovery Kingdom Child Care Center in Charleston, West Virginia. Staunton was his teacher.
“My initial reaction is disgust. I am an aunt. I have a little 5-month-old niece. School is a place where parents are allowing their children to go, feeling like they’re going to be protected. As somebody in charge of these children, your number one priority should be the safety of that child,” community member Taylor Hardy said.
West Virginia State Troopers said that Staunton allegedly grabbed the child by his left arm and “aggressively” ripped off the child’s socks. He then allegedly lifted up the child’s legs, and the seat that the toddler was sitting on slid underneath him, causing the child to fall onto the ground.
Then, the teacher allegedly grabbed and yanked the back of the boy’s head and held the child in this position for several seconds.
All of this, according to investigators, was caught on surveillance cameras. The complaint said Staunton told law enforcement the victim threw shoes at him, but that was not shown on surveillance.
“To be the person inflicting harm, just absolutely disgusting,” Hardy said. “I’m glad that action was taken, and I hope that he can learn from his wrong and he’s not allowed around children again because it’s just absolutely unacceptable.”
Daycare administrators saw the surveillance video and called the police on Wednesday.
The criminal complaint documents said that because of the difference in size of Staunton compared to the little boy, the force he used to allegedly grab the child could have caused extensive injury.
Community members and parents said they’re glad this abuse is being brought to light.
“I hope it doesn’t continue. I definitely hope that they can find some way to address this so it doesn’t happen anymore and that daycares, preschools can find a way to not hire people that would even think to do anything like that to little kids.”
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has not commented on this incident because it is an ongoing investigation, but the Discovery Kingdom owner said they contacted CPS and authorities immediately, saying they take these allegations seriously and want to protect all children at the daycare.
The magistrate clerk says Staunton was bailed out last night, and his bail was set for $10,000 for 10% cash.