Christina Marie Curtis, 25, has been charged with four counts of child neglect and of neglect of a child with great bodily harm, according to records at the Okaloosa County Department of Corrections.
Surveillance video from the day care center shows Curtis dropping an 18-month-old infant into a wagon, according to an arrest report cited by WEARTV, which says the boy later had trouble standing and walking.
The incident on May 21 was followed by three other reports of children—aged between 13 months old and 21 months old—also left with leg fractures after attending the Kids Discovery Learning Center on John Sims Parkway in the Florida panhandle.
According to the arrest report, all four arrived at school able to stand and walk but unable to do either by the end of the day.
Investigators say they don’t know whether the injuries were inflicted intentionally or not.
After a two-month investigation, they arrested Curtis on July 20. She posted $4,000 bail at the Okaloosa County Jail and is awaiting a hearing.
The day care center has so far not provided any statement to media outlets.
According to the Panama City News Herald, the arrest report describes surveillance footage of Curtis walking with the 18-month-old.
“The defendant stopped and quickly moved her hands to [his] upper arms and rapidly jerked him into the air,” the report said. “When [he] was picked up, his feet and legs were in the air and was dropped feet first into a wagon. Other children were placed in the wagon and it was pulled outside.”
When he woke from a nap following the wagon ride, “the teacher attempted to place him on his feet, however, [he] was unable to bear weight on his legs,” according to the report.
The family of one victim was told he had fallen over another child, according to the report.
“The defendant denied knowing how the injuries occurred and believed they could have happened either at home or in the playground,” the report said. “She has observed several children fall out of playground cars or other items.”
According to the report Curtis denied knowledge of how the injuries happened, saying she believed they may have happened in the playground when they tumbled out of play items, or at home.
The charge of child neglect leading to great harm faced by Curtis is a second-degree felony in the state of Florida, and punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Okaloosa County sits on the west of the Florida panhandle, spanning from the Alabama state line to the coast.
Child Abuse in the United States
According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (pdf), approximately 3.5 million children nationwide in 2016 were the subjects of at least one maltreatment reports to authorities.
“Child abuse is one of the nation’s most serious concerns,” the authors of the report wrote in the introduction.
About 17 percent of those reports were substantiated; the department said that there were an estimated 676,000 victims of child abuse and neglect, or 9.1 victims per 1,000 children.
Children in their first year of life had the highest rate of victimization at 24.8 per 1,000 children of the same age in the national population.
About three-quarters of the cases were neglect while about 18 percent were physical abuse. Some children suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment.
Of the perpetrators of the abuse, more than four-fifths were between the ages of 18 and 44 and more than half were women.