ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, Mo. – Video of alleged child abuse at a childcare center in Park Hills, Missouri, led to state discipline, but prosecutors say they are no longer pursuing a criminal charge.
The incident at All Aboard Play and Learn Center has been the focus of Missouri childcare regulators and St. Francois County prosecutors for months.
You can hear a four-year-old special needs child call out “Mommy!” as he’s being restrained.
“Nothing’s ever broken my heart more than seeing that video—hearing the video—because I’m his protector,” said Angelique Ghuffar, the child’s mother.
It was Ghuffar’s son on the June 2022 video being restrained by a childcare worker, who was fired after the video surfaced.
“She was actually arrested at the daycare,” Ghuffar said.
Ghuffar is talking now because prosecutors just dropped the child abuse charge, “…simply because he didn’t have physical marks on his body.”
The worker who recorded the video, Allison Miller, spoke to FOX 2 via mobile video from where she’s traveling out of state.
“I proceeded to take the child outside, away from the other worker, to make sure he was ok, to see if he was hurt and to see if he needed anything, and to wait until his family got there to pick him up,” Miller said.
Ghuffar is grateful Miller was there to look out for her son that day.
“I thank her from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “She’s like my son’s guardian angel. I may have never known.”
Missouri childcare inspectors issued four violations against the childcare center for improper discipline, noting that there was a time frame of about 10 to 15 minutes that the teacher was holding down the child.
The St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney, however, told FOX 2, in part, “…there is insufficient evidence constituting probable cause to believe (the defendant) caused a child to suffer physical injury, an essential element of the indictment of child abuse.”
Prosecutor Michael B. Dudley added that specifics about possible physical injuries were not available until after the grand jury indictment. The childcare center had no additional comment as its voicemail is full and no one answered the door when we visited.
“There needs to be better training for people who are taking care of special needs children,” Ghuffar said.
She hopes the scrutiny surrounding her son’s case might prevent future problems.
“Do all of your research,” she said. “…don’t look at the prices. Look at your research.”
Search here for inspection records on Missouri childcare centers.