An employee from Nellis Air Force Base’s child care center was arrested Tuesday and faces child abuse charges after a young girl was injured at the base in October, court documents show.
Metropolitan Police Department officers responded to the Child Development Center at the base, in the far northeast Las Vegas Valley, on Oct. 4 in response to a report of possible child abuse, according to Smith’s arrest report.
A child hurt her left arm at the child care center and later told her mother, who had taken her to a hospital emergency room, that her teacher, 44-year-old Carol Leeann Smith, hurt her.
The child care center called the girl’s parents to report that the girl was injured, according Smith’s arrest report. When the girl’s mother arrived at the center, she asked Smith what had happened, and Smith gave “varying stories of how the victim was injured,” the report said.
A doctor diagnosed the girl with a “radial subluxation,” also called a “nursemaid’s elbow,” according to the report.
Nursemaid’s elbow is a common injury in young children that happens when the child’s elbow is pulled and partially dislocated, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Nellis’ on-base law enforcement officials are assisting Metro officers with their investigation, base spokeswoman Rebekah Mattes said Friday.
She said all of the center’s “employees — staff members to faculty — get thorough background checks.” The facility meets accreditation processes at the local, state, Air Force and federal levels, she said.
Information found through the investigation may be used to change the hiring and background check process “if we find out anything that we missed in the past,” Mattes said.
According to the Child Development Center’s website, the center offers child care services for children from as young as 6 weeks to age 5.
After the girl was injured, Smith was moved from her position at the child care center to an “administration position,” according to the report.
Also according to the report:
On Nov. 8, police interviewed Smith at the base. She did not give police a “reasonable explanation for how the victim was injured,” and she denied the girl had any “falls or accidents” the day she was hurt.
Smith said the girl was “spoiled” and “sassy,” telling police the day the girl was hurt she was “throwing a fit” and “threw herself backwards.” Smith said she grabbed the girl under the arms to stop her from hitting her head.
Smith also denied pulling or tugging on the girl’s arm.
Police interviewed a woman who was in the room when the girl was injured. The woman said she heard the girl cry when her back was turned, and when she looked Smith was standing close to the girl, and “the victim was holding her arm.”
The girl’s mother told police her daughter was unable to use her arm when she was hospitalized. She said her daughter “would become distraught and cry” when she returned to the child care center, even after Smith was moved to a different position.
Smith was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Clark County Detention Center, where she remained Friday with bail set at $5,000, jail records show. She faces charges of child abuse or neglect resulting in significant bodily and mental harm.
Her preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 30, court records show.