Four former Mississippi day care workers are facing child abuse charges after a viral video surfaced showing an adult wearing a Halloween mask scaring the children in their care.
On Monday, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and prosecutors “met with the parents of the children involved in the incident at Lil’ Blessings Child Care and Learning Center and advised them of any criminal charges that may be pending under the law.” says a news release from the sheriff’s office.
“I admit it was very difficult to watch these videos,” Sheriff Kevin Crook wrote on social media about the incident. “It made me sick to my stomach to think about the terror those kids were going through.”
In the video, the staff is seen wearing a mask similar to the villain “Scream”, shouting in the children’s faces and chasing the children around the room. Children can be heard screaming and crying in distress.
According to court documents, the incidents occurred in mid-September and early October.
Sierra McCandless, 21, Oci-Anna Kilburn, 28, Jennifer Newman, 25, and Misty Shyenne Mills, 28, are each facing three counts of child abuse, according to court documents.
A fifth woman, Traci Hutson, is facing charges of aggravated battery by a mandatory reporter and simple assault of a minor, both misdemeanors, the release said.
The sheriff’s office did not specify which women wore the mask, or the exact role each is accused of playing.
The Monroe Journal spoke with Sheila Sanders, owner of the daycare for the past twenty years.
“I contacted my license, and he’s involved,” Sanders told the Journal. “The people who did those actions are no longer with us. They were fired. I wasn’t here at the time and I didn’t know they were doing that. I don’t support that and never have. I want to say that it has been taken care of.’
Newman posted on his Facebook page that he was the one behind the camera and it wasn’t the first time this had happened.
“I recorded it for evidence and then the video was sent to the parents to show them how they treated the child,” she wrote. “I didn’t make this video for s**** and giggles. It wasn’t fun for me.”
Newman declined to speak to CNN when asked for comment.
The suspects were arrested on Wednesday, and the four who face felony charges made their initial court appearance on Thursday, according to the schedule outlined in the statement.
Bail was set at $20,000 for McCandless and Kilburn and $15,000 for Newman and Mills, court records show. An employee of the county sheriff’s office told CNN that they have all been tied up.
The records also show that none of the women charged with the crimes are working at the daycare center.
Melissa Parker, director of the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Office of Licensing, said the facility has not reopened since Thursday.
CNN has reached out to former day care workers for comment.