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Preschool worker charged with child abuse, accused of squeezing child's cheek until it made them cry

Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 14, 2019

AUBURNDALE, Fla. -- Police arrested a preschool worker in Auburndale after allegations of child abuse.

Auburndale Police and The Florida Department of Children and Families launched an investigation at the Lit'le Bloodhound Preschool on Ariana Avenue. Police determined that five preschool children were victims of child abuse.

According to police, 36-year-old Michelle Wilkerson told detectives she was trying to stop a child from biting another. Police determined that the "abuse was more than stopping one child from biting one another."

"Covering their mouth, pushing their head back so they're looking at the ceiling and obviously the children are in discomfort and pain, crying," said Lt. Andy Moore with the Auburndale Police Department.

On two separate occasions, Wilkerson yanked a child by the arm to make them move to another table. Police then said on three separate occasions, Wilkerson covered the mouth, nose and chin of a child, forced them to tilt their head back and look towards the ceiling while squeezing the child's cheek and making them cry.

"My son has been going here since he was 6 months old. My daughter has been going here since she was a year old. She's 5 and he's 4 now and I've never had any problems," said Elizabeth Godinez, a parent.

The Lit'le Bloodhounds Preschool told police it does not allow an employee to place hands on a child.

We reached out to the preschool, but was told no comment.

Wilkerson has been arrested numerous times in Polk County since 2012. An arrest report states, "the defendant is currently out on bond for the charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer." Wilkerson was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff's Office in April.

Wilkerson faces five counts of child abuse and was transported to Polk County jail.