AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Two women sit behind bars in Columbia County Wednesday night after investigators charged them in connection to alleged child abuse at a local daycare. The nearly three month investigation involves a Martinez preschool director and teacher. The allegations came from two victims, 4 and 5 – years- old. NewsChanenl 6 spoke with the grandmother of one of the victims about what she said she learned happened to her grandson.
“He’s got bruises down his back,” Carol Conner described. “Three big bruises.”
We can’t show you the marks Carol Conner quickly told her daughter to snap on her cell phone of her grandson back in late September. Those are being withheld by law enforcement after the family reported what they believed was child abuse to Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in October. But we can tell you that Conner said her 4-year-old grandson’s teacher inflicted the pain.
She explained, “All of a sudden, my daughter gets a Facebook message from a former employee…telling her…I have gone to the director. She’s got a stick called ‘America’ that she is hitting these kids with. Putting them in the closet. We were like what? That’s it. It looks like a stick. Hit. Hit.”
Arrested for the crime is 26-year-old Shannon McCune, a teacher at Foundations Christian Preschool on South Belair Road in Martinez. Joining her in jail is 34-year-old Melinda Williams, the director of the school, for failing to report the suspected child abuse. Columbia County Sheriff’s Office charged McCune with cruelty to children in not one but two cases, involving a 5-year-old child back in July along with Conner’s 4-year-old grandson.
“It was the testimony from the children, the items that were used and also the injuries that were inflicted on the child,” said Captain Andy Shedd with the sheriff’s office.
The affidavit states McCune grabbed the 5-year-old by the arm and left bruises. That child disclosed that McCune hit him with a yard stick on several occasions.
It also alleges she hit the 4-year-old on his shoulder or back and left a bruise and hit him with a flag pole called “America” on several occasions.
Conner said it took some time due to her grandson being just 4, but the family was able to get to the bottom of what they believe actually happened.
“I asked him did Ms. Shannon ever take you to a closet and hit you with a stick. He said yes, yes. She hit me with America. Ok, did she ever do anything else? She made me pull my pants down. What? Why? Cause she hit my private and said it was poison.”
Conner said her grandson is now in therapy after the incident. The preschool issued a statement on its Facebook page stating McCune has been fired. But they have not received any evidence that the allegations are true.
More parents are coming forward. County on NewsChannel 6 to keep you updated on this story.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps