The owner of a Waco day care facility and one of her employees were indicted Wednesday on multiple felony counts alleging physical abuse of children in their care.
A McLennan County grand jury indicted Pepper Jones, 38, owner of Miss Pepper’s Day Care, on one count of injury to a child and six counts of endangering a child, and Brittany Starr Hale, 31, on six counts of injury to a child.
The women were arrested in June after a Waco police investigation into allegations of child abuse at the day care at 3800 Lasker Ave. Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said in June that children between the ages of 10 months and 2 were physically abused at the day care center, including being pushed or pulled down, having their hair pulled and being struck by the women.
In one of the alleged incidents, a child suffered a dislocated shoulder and broken elbow, Swanton said.
According to arrest affidavits issued for Jones, the mother of a 2-year-old boy took the child to a local hospital in April with injuries to his arm. Although the boy does not speak in complete sentences, the boy touched his arm and said “Pepper, my arm, right here, doctor.”
The boy also pointed to his buttocks and said, “Pepper.”
The third-degree felony injury to a child indictment against Jones alleges she caused bodily injury to a boy by “yanking and/or pulling and/or jerking his arm.”
The state-jail felony endangering a child counts involve six children and allege Jones “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, engaged in conduct that placed (the children) in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment, by failing to protect (the children) from assault by Brittany Hale.”
The injury to a child indictment against Hale alleges in the first count she caused bodily injury to a girl by “grabbing her and/or pulling her hair and/or jerking her head by pulling on her hair.” The second count alleges she caused bodily injury to a girl by “picking her up by her arm and/or forcing her to the floor and/or causing her head to snap back.”
The third count alleges Hale injured a girl by “grabbing her pigtail to forcibly move her around,” while a fourth count alleges Hale injured another girl by “pulling her around by her ear and/or pulling or grabbing her ear.”
Count five alleges Hale injured a boy by “grabbing his buttocks and/or grabbing both sides of his head to pull him off the floor forcing him to stand,” while the sixth count alleges Hale injured another girl by “pushing her off a bench to the floor.”
According to arrest warrant affidavits, a video shows a 2-year-old girl sitting on the floor when Hale forcefully grabs the child by the back of her hair. Hale pulls the girl forward, the document states.
Other incidents included slaps, ear pulling and pushing, the affidavits state.
Jones is a co-founder of No Limitations Athletics, an organization that offers free athletic opportunities to special-needs children. No Limitations posted a statement on social media after her arrest saying that Jones resigned from the group.
Both Jones and Hale remain free on bonds.
A conviction for a third-degree felony is punishable by from two to 10 years in prison. State-jail felonies can be punished by up to two years in jail.