A daycare worker has been charged with "hitting and pushing" children under the age of two at the facility that serves the Pentagon two years after authorities arrested two daycare workers for allegedly assaulting children in another military dependent daycare center nearby.
The caregiver, Va Nessa Taylor, worked at the Cody Child Development Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va. The Cody CDC is the largest daycare center in the military, serving the families who work at the Pentagon, Myer-Henderson Hall and Fort McNair, Va.
If convicted of the misdemeanor assault charges, Taylor, 47, of Temple Hills, Md., could face a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Authorities were alerted to Taylor's treatment of the children on Jan. 29 when "a CDC employee reported to a supervisor that Taylor had been observed withholding food from a two-year-old child during the facility's lunch period," according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Following the report to the supervisor, a review of the center's surveillance videos "revealed four instances in which Taylor allegedly assaulted four children within her care by hitting and pushing the children," according to the release.
The alleged assaults happened between November 2013 and January 2014 with the children ranging from 18 months to two years in age, officials said.
Based on the investigation, the alleged conduct of Taylor, who has been relieved of her duties, "did not appear to result in sustained physical injury to the children," officials said.
In September 2012, federal marshals from the U.S. Attorney's office in eastern Virginia arrested two workers at the Army's Fort Myer, Va., Child Development Center on charges of mistreating toddlers.
The misdemeanor assault charges triggered an audit that turned up at least 31, and possibly as many as 38, other employees of the Fort Myer CDC who had criminal records, including two for sex offenses.
The scandal at Fort Myer caught then- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta by surprise. He was not told of the arrests and the audit until Dec. 18, 2012.
An "angered and disappointed" Panetta then ordered a worldwide review of the hiring and criminal background check procedures at the more than 900 daycare and youth facilities in the military serving 500,000 children daily.
The scandal also prompted an unusual late-night phone call from President Obama to Army Secretary John McHugh.
A White House official later said that Obama told McHugh there must be zero tolerance on standards for those charged with caring for the children of service members.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@monster.com.