Florida Preschool Teacher Charged for Repeatedly Punching 4-Year-Old

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By NTD Newsroom
August 16, 2022US News
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Florida Preschool Teacher Charged for Repeatedly Punching 4-Year-Old
Preschool teacher Ashley Richards, 32, was arrested and charged for beating a child in her care. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida preschool teacher has been fired and faces charges of felony child abuse after repeatedly beating a 4-year-old child in the head on Aug. 10.

The 32-year-old teacher, Ashley Richards, was arrested at Kindercare Learning Center in Dunedin, Florida at approximately 11:30 a.m on the same day.

Richards’ actions were recorded by an unidentified witness who was alerted to the situation after hearing screams from the playground, said the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in a press release.

An arrest affidavit by the witness wrote that Richards was punching with “both an open hand and a closed fist in the back of the head and side of the head.” Richards was allegedly pushing and “yelling at the victim”. The witness recorded some of the incident on a cellphone and handed the footage to authorities upon their arrival.

Deputies from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said the video showed Richards “pushing the child over her legs and continuing to punch him,” and also heard her say “Do you want me to hit you?” reported the Tampa Bay Times.

Both Richards and the child were questioned by deputies.

The Sheriff’s Office said Richards denied punching the child but admitted to covering his mouth with her hand to stop him from laughing.

According to the arrest affidavit, the 4-year-old said Richards was administering “a form of punishment” for fighting with his brother.

Kindercare Learning Companies emailed a statement to the Tampa Bay Times about the incident.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the children in our care. The teacher’s alleged actions do not reflect who we are or the training we provide our teachers. We are working with the police to determine what may not have happened.”

Richards was hired at Kindercare Learning Center in March 2021. She has since been fired over the incident, reported ABC news affiliate WFTS.

Jail records show Richards was booked into Pinellas County Jail and later released on a $5,000 bond.

The investigation is ongoing.

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