Arrest affidavits describe daycare workers pulling hair, ears and knocking
WACO, TX – One local daycare worker and her employee have been arrested on allegations of child abuse.
Pepper Jones, who owns Miss Pepper’s Place in Waco, was arrested and charged with six counts of endangering a child and one count of injury to a child.
The daycare is located on 3800 Lasker Avenue. Jones was arrested at 6:20 p.m. Thursday by Waco police.
Brittany “Starr” Hale was also arrested and charged with six counts of injury to a child.
According to the Waco Police Department, the victims in these cases were all children between the ages of 10 months and 2-years-old.
“You put your children in care of others as a necessity and unfortunately things like this can occur. Again this is a shock this community,” Sgt. Patrick Swanton said.
Jones’ bond was set at $21,000, but bonded out. Hale was held on a $24,000 bond before bonding out.
The investigation is still on-going, and Jones and Hale could face additional charges.
Jones is also the co-founder of No Limitations Athletics, a ministry of the Central United Methodist Church in Waco. No Limitations Athletics provides the special needs community a chance to play sports.
News Channel 25 obtained 12 arrest affidavits, warrants and complaints related to the incident.
One affidavit said that Jones called one child’s mother saying something was wrong with the child’s shoulder. She said the child had been injured during a wrestling incident with another child.
However, after reviewing the video, police said that the child was not injured during the wresting incident. The affidavit said after a nine minute window where the child is not seen, the child returns holding his arm, and his demeanor had changed.
Another affidavit said one victim was sitting on the floor, and Hale forcibly grabbed the victim by the head and pulled the victim forward on the floor.
Another affidavit said that the another victim was playing, and Hale grabbed her by her pigtail to move her. The victim fell to her knees in this incident, so Hale held on to her hair until the girl put a toy away.
Katie Van Antwerp, the aunt of the toddler in question, said this week, the mother learned about the incident involving her child, which she said surfaced after detectives reviewed additional footage from the daycare.
“She was team Pepper all the way. Finding out the news, it was shocking and devastating to her because you would’ve never thought it,” Van Antwerp said.
She added this daycare had a waiting list because parents trusted Jones.
“The parents will not forget. The kids have a chance of not knowing what happened here but the parents are going to live with it forever and I hate that for them. No parent deserves that,” Van Antwerp said.
Another incident described another child playing with a toy when Hale grabbed the victim by the ear and brought her to the opposite side of the room to put the toy away. The affidavit said video shows the victim wincing in pain.
Another separate incident describes Hale hitting the same victim that dislocated his shoulder on the butt. The victim goes to return a toy and sits down next to the toy bin. Before the victim can put the toy away, Hale grabs him on both sides of his head, pulling him off the floor to make him stand.
One incident said Hale knocked a child off a bench and onto the floor. The affidavit said Hale used enough force to cause the victim’s head to snap back as she falls to the floor.
One affidavit said Hale grabbed the 10-month-old victim by the arm from the floor and forcefully sat her down. In the video, the 10 month old falls backwards, and Hale forcefully grabs the victim’s left hand to snap the child’s head back up with force.
According to the Department of Family Protective Services, a representative from Miss Pepper’s Place told the Childcare Licensing, the daycare will not reopen and will return its license. At this point, DFPS has not received confirmation whether it was returned. The daycare has been licensed since 2013 and it had a capacity of serving 12 children, according to DPFS.
Jones’ attorney, Seth Sutton, sent out this statement:
“Pepper Jones has a long history of serving the kids of the Waco community, especially those with disabilities. We take any allegation of child injury very seriously and have already begun working with authorities to ensure a proper outcome to this situation. I ask that you respect the family’s privacy. We won’t have any further comment until after I’ve had an opportunity to review the relevant evidence in the case.”
No Limitations Athletics released a statement Friday evening:
“No Limitations Athletics is aware of the allegations against one of our co-founders who, in addition to being a founder, has been one of the most active volunteers and most ardent advocates for our community. She has, in the best interest of our organization, resigned effective immediately. She will have no involvement with No Limitations Athletics pending the resolution of this matter.”