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Virginia military day care center worker faces assault charges

A northern Virginia day care center with a history of abuse accusations involving children in its care is under scrutiny once again. A 47-year-old woman who worked at the center is facing misdemeanor federal charges of simple assault against the children in her care. The Cody Child Development Center cares for children of both military and civilian employees, including those working at the Pentagon as well as the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. According to the U.S. attorney's office in Virginia that is prosecuting the case, the alleged assaults "did not appear to result in sustained physical injury to the children."

Two of the woman's colleagues reported her alleged behavior to authorities in January. She is accused of withholding food from young children and hitting them. Investigators say they have video evidence of multiple incidents of her striking and shaking children two years old and younger. She no longer supervises children at the facility.

According to the website Military.com, the Cody CDC, located in Arlington, is the largest of its kind for military families. That site also noted that the woman could face a year in prison and a fine of $100,000 if convicted of the assault charges.

This is not the first instance of abuse charges against employees at the Cody CDC. In 2012, two other employees faced similar charges. They were found guilty, but were sentenced to probation rather than jail time. Those allegations led to a thorough review of hiring practices by military day care centers around the world. Investigators found a number of staffers at that base and others who should not have been allowed unsupervised contact with children.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children had reportedly revoked the Cody CDC's accreditation at one time, but it was later reinstated, according to the association. The details of when and how that reinstatement happened have not been made public.

The defendant, who has reportedly asserted her Fifth Amendment rights when questioned about the alleged incidents, is scheduled to appear in court next month. The fact that there is reportedly video evidence of her becoming physical with young children does not help her case. However, the fact that none of the children suffered "sustained physical injury," as prosecutors said, may help her avoid prison time. A criminal defense attorney may be able to work with prosecutors to help her make the best of a bad situation.

Source: The Washington Post, "Employee at troubled military child-care center on Va. base accused of assaulting kids" Matt Zapotosky, Mar. 13, 2014

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