3 women arrested after allegations of abuse at Lexington County daycare center

Three women have been arrested in connection with an alleged incident of child abuse at Windsor Academy, a daycare center at 952 Old Cherokee Road in Lexington County.

The incident under investigation resulted in the fracture of a child’s leg, according to a statement from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

“Shayna Nicole McKnight, 36, is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to a child,” the statement read. “Amy Marie Grice, 38, and Jeannie H. Locklear, 49, are charged with obstruction of justice.”

Reached by the Chronicle, Elaine Harkey, the owner of Windsor Academy and Windsor West in West Columbia, confirmed that Locklear was the principal of Windsor Academy.

Locklear, McKnight and Grice were fired on Friday, the owner said.

Harkey said his two child care centers remain open.

She called the child who was injured a “baby”.

“This case began last month with a call to the mother of a child from Windsor Academy in Lexington,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said in the news release. “The daycare told the mother that her child’s leg had been injured in the railing of a crib.”

An incident report shared with the Chronicle says X-rays confirmed a fracture to the child’s left tibia and the child spent a night in hospital.

The report says the mother said she returned a call from Windsor House and spoke to “Bess (surname unknown), the manager of Windsor House”.

Harkey confirmed that Locklear goes through Bess.

“Bess advised [the child] only put pressure on [their] right leg.”

The report says screams were heard in the background.

The report says the mother asked Bess to see the footage of the incident, but was told the daycare had a new camera system and she couldn’t pull the footage.

The report also notes that the mother noticed small bruises on the child’s right arm and right leg and that pictures of these were taken.

“As part of our work on the investigation, detectives have asked to review the video from inside Windsor Academy,” Koon said. “Grice and Locklear told us that the camera system was not working when the child was injured. We eventually recovered the video and determined that the two women took steps to delete the video after viewing it. These actions resulted in charges of obstruction of justice.”

The statement says this recovered video shows “McKnight forcefully bent the child’s legs under the child’s body and rolled him over in a crib while holding the child’s left leg.”

“Based on detectives’ review of the video, the child was crawling and playing without any visible pain prior to the incident, then crying and unable to put weight on the leg after the incident,” said Koon.

McKnight, Grice and Locklear were arrested by deputies on Friday morning, the statement said. They are being held at the Lexington County Detention Center.

Harkey told the Chronicle she knew little about the incident before Friday’s arrests.

“I knew a baby had been hurt,” she said. “But, as far as I know, it was an accident. Not even an accident. It was something that was a mystery.”

Harkey said she also knew nothing about any tampering with security footage.

“I just know we had a new system,” she said. “It was only in place two weeks before the incident because we had a lightning strike and the other one was destroyed. And it was complicated. And Bess had problems. The director had a hard time understanding. “

The mother’s account in the incident report mentions previous problems with the daycare, including frequent calls to take the child home due to other children’s illnesses.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Human Services confirmed the agency was assisting with the investigation, but said no further information would be released while the criminal investigation remains open.

Harkey told the Chronicle that she opened Windsor Academy in 1997. According to the school’s Facebook page, it accepts children from 6 weeks to 5 years old.

The SC Division of Early Care and Education, the branch of the state Department of Social Services that runs federal and state child care programs, lists Windsor Academy’s capacity at 144. The division’s website says the facility’s state license was renewed Jan. 16 and expires. July 16.

Harkey said it was the first time a child had fractured a limb at Windsor Academy, except for his grandson, who fell from playground equipment.

“I’m just shocked,” she said. “Nothing has ever happened that’s been this bad. We’ve always had great reviews, parents love us. The director was well loved by parents and everyone in general. And I’m devastated. I I’m just sick of it. I would never want harm to happen to a child. Especially not while they’re in my care.”

“I don’t know why anyone would want to go to daycare when these things are happening,” Harkey added. “It’s just something that everyone is concerned about. And I understand why. But at the same time, it was an incident. We have so many good employees who are also affected by this bad incident that happened.”