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Punta Gorda day care worker charged with child abuse

Punta Gorda woman charged with abusing children at day care center
Posted at 11:36 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 23:36:40-05

VENICE, Fla — The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office arrested a day care worker after she was caught on camera dragging a child across a room.

The video shows Jamie Smithmyer, of Punta Gorda dragging a child across the room, the kid hanging in the air, them shoving him to the ground.
It just so happened a parent walked into a different room where a closed circuit surveillance system was showing the abuse.

“She witnessed the defendant in this case abusing several children on the screen, so she shared that with the director of the center and that director proceeded to immediately fire the defendant," said Sarasota County Sheriff's Spokesperson Kaitlyn Perez.

The parent who saw the abuse also tipped off the sheriff’s office which began an investigation that led to Smithmyer’s arrest.4-In-Your Corner is not revealing the name of the day care center due to Marcys Law, but a parent said she’s familiar with Smithmyer’s rough handling of children at the facility.

“One day I was there and witnessed her grab one child by the arm, but I didn’t think much of it, much is going on, but after seeing all this on the news it really confirmed a lot,” said Ashley Emerson.

Emerson was told to pick up her son Friday afternoon because he was acting out, she’s afraid he may have been abused by Smithmyer.

“She was the teacher to my child, that’s why I’m more concerned about this, and he’s never been acting the way he’s acted for the last three weeks."

The director of the daycare center did not want to speak with 4-In-Your Corner. The daycare is not facing any charges at this time but this is an ongoing investigation.

“I think there’s a message for the public as well, make sure you vet your daycare provider, vet the teachers that are in those facilities, make sure you know where you’re sending your kids everyday,” said Perez.

If anyone thinks their child may have been abused at the daycare, they’re asked to call the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office at 941-861-4900.