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Hillsborough County day care worker arrested for child abuse

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Posted at 11:05 AM, Sep 29, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — A day care worker in Hillsborough County faces charges for allegedly hitting and dropping a 1-year-old, causing serious injuries.

The sheriff's office said Yamirka Menendez, 51, was arrested on Tuesday. Authorities said she's seen on a surveillance video from September 8 at 8 a.m. at the Time of Wonder Academy removing the child from a swing by grabbing his wrists, swinging him in the air, and dropping him on the floor.

Due to the fall, authorities said the baby was unable to put weight on his left foot and leg.

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Video from the same day, at about 12 p.m., also shows Menendez hitting the same child in the head while he was again in the swing, according to the sheriff's office.

Later the same day, authorities said Menendez is seen just after 1 p.m. forcefully grabbing and yanking the leg of a 4-month-old baby as she fed the infant on her lap. She was also seen slapping the child's leg several times, the sheriff's office said.

The following day, the mother of the 1-year-old took him to St. Joseph's Hospital when she noticed he was experiencing pain in his left foot. The sheriff's office said the baby was diagnosed with a fracture to his tibia and fibula.

On September 23, authorities said the 1-year-old was examined by medical staff at the University of South Florida’s Child Protection Team, who found the injuries consistent with signs of physical abuse.

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A report was filed with the sheriff's office and detectives later reviewed the videos from the room at the daycare. They subsequently arrested Menendez and charged her with child abuse. Another daycare worker, Milagros Rodriguez, 52, who was in the room at the time, is also facing a charge for failure to report child abuse.

"This is every parent's worst nightmare coming true," Sheriff Chad Chronister said. "We drop our child off at daycare knowing first and foremost that our child's going to be safe. This caretaker
should never see the light of day — nonetheless ever have a child in her life."

Chronister added that the worker who witnessed the abuse and didn't report it or intervene is "equally as guilty."

The sheriff's office said neither woman have any criminal history. The incidents have been reported to Hillsborough County Child's Licensing.