WAUKESHA, Wis. - Prosecutors say a baby boy at The Lawrence School, a Waukesha day care, was abused, so why did it take so long for police and the state to go in and shut it down?
Police showed up and The Lawrence School's license was revoked by the state, but that didn't happen until almost one month after prosecutors say the abuse happened. Police say it never should have taken so long for this case to get to them.
The Lawrence School was crawling with law enforcement on Sept. 14.
"This complaint is just awful," said David Herring, Waukesha County court commissioner. "It is awful."
Heather Miller, 48, an infant room teacher was arrested and charged the next day.
"Parents put their trust every day in day care workers, and the defendant abused that trust," said Kristi Gordon, Waukesha County district attorney.
Court documents say another staffer witnessed Miller set up mattresses to block the camera and slam a boy face down into the crib. His body bounced up and down. She then held him into the mattress so hard he struggled to breathe.
The boy's mother said her son was lethargic when she picked him up, cried the whole day and vomited over the next two, but police didn't get that information until 12 days later.
Investigation at The Lawrence School, Waukesha
Day care workers are mandatory reporters. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families says that means if they suspect abuse, they need to make an immediate report to Child Protective Services, but that didn't happen.
Prosecutors say the staffer who saw what happened told day care leaders, but they did nothing. Three other staffers were arrested but not charged.
Court documents say the witness later told the mother the boy wasn't safe around Miller.
That was on Aug. 25. On Aug. 29, the boy's mother talked to Waukesha police. That's when the state got involved, performing an unannounced site visit four days later on Sept. 2.
Public records show the state found 19 state violations, including failing to report suspected abuse and denying being aware of it. They said Miller was forcing children to sleep and eat on the same schedule and physically restraining infants and toddlers.
Waukesha police say there was no immediate danger to the child. They say they needed time to coordinate with other agencies. That's why nearly two weeks passed with The Lawrence School still operating before the day care was shut down.
During the raid, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families said police found a loaded, unsecured gun in the day care owner's unlocked office.
Miller is still trying to get an attorney. One was appointed by the court last week after she was found indigent, but that attorney withdrew. Court documents say it was because of a conflict of interest with the firm.