Washington DC Daycare Center Raided Over Child Abuse Claims
Police: Women abused at least 3 toddlers at Minnieland Academy
One of the largest daycare centers in Washington DC has been raided by police following allegations that staff members have been physically abusing children.
The raid follows the arrest of a number of staff members after complaints that toddlers had suffered abuse.
Officers in unmarked vehicles raided the building at Minnieland Academy in Bristow, carrying seized computers, hard drives, and brown paper bags full of other evidence.
Three female staff members were arrested, accused of abusing the young children.
According to a report by Fox5, former Minnieland employee Taylor Boykin is accused of assaulting four young children.
Boykin, who was denied bond, happens to live just a few blocks away from the daycare.
His home was also raided by investigators earlier this week.
It’s the latest case of abuse to hit the popular Northern Virginia chain.
The company has also dealt with lawsuits from a child cruelty scandal at Woodbridge in 2013 and a sexual assault incident at Centreville in 2010.
The company claims they conducted a background check on Boykin when he started working for Minnieland seven years ago.
But maintaining records is a different story.
Minnieland’s records have been examined through the Department of Social Services and found multiple occasions of expired criminal background checks for employees at several locations.
The state has now launched two separate investigations into Minnieland's operations.
The company says it has decided to launch a third-party, independent audit across all locations to do its own review of procedures.
“We want a comprehensive review of all of our protocols, all of our practices across the board to make sure that we’re being consistent and make sure that we’re doing everything possible to ensure the full safety and nurturing environment for the children in our care,” explained Mark Hubbard, Minnieland Academy spokesman.
Parents find out through the media
Officials with the daycare say when they were first notified, they tried talking to parents one by one, but the news got out quicker.
Taylor Boykin was arrested on April 20, but parents didn't hear about it until four days later after reports from the media.
"We know that some parents have been frustrated with our ability to communicate effectively with them. We want to do a much better job of that," said Hubbard.
"We could have worked faster, we could have reached more parents and we are working on doing that and making sure we follow up with all of those parents," he said.
Five days after Boykin’s arrest, Minnieland owners Chuck and Jackie Leopold held a meeting for frustrated parents, who accused top management of negligence and failing to keep children safe.
Several parents are reporting they are considering filing a civil lawsuit in response.
In a meeting days later, frustrated parents called out the company's owners, saying they haven't done enough to stop things like this from happening.
The company is now promising a laundry list of security changes at its Bristow location, including security cameras that offer recorded footage instead of just a live feed.
Hubbard says Minnieland is dedicated to making lasting changes.
“They’ve been operating for 45 years,” he said.
“This is a family-owned company that began as a daycare center in the owner’s home.
"They’ve grown 56 locations now with 1,700 employees and thousands of children in their care.
"And they take that very seriously.”
UPDATE: A previous version of this article suggested that raid was connected to sexual abuse charges and possible child trafficking links, though additional information has since been provided to confirm that the charges were only related to the physical abuse of children. The related sexual assault incident at took place at Centreville in 2010. The article has been updated accordingly.