When an East Texas parent grew suspicious of her nanny, she decided to set out a video camera and tape what was going on in her home. That tape, the Anderson County District Attorney says helped get the nanny arrested for allegedly slapping a three-year-old child.
Jerri Caryl, 25, a single mother of two, thought she had hired a good nanny.
"Very sweet, very innocent, and very dependable," said Caryl. "She had nothing else to do, you know, so I knew that she would be there." Two months after Cheryl Prater started watching her children, Caryl noticed something wasn't right. Her 3-year-od, Trinity, told her the nanny spanked her for not closing her eyes.
"She whispered in my ear that she didn't like her," said Caryl. "She'd say, 'Mommy, I don't like her', and she would not really flinch hard, but she would flinch whenever somebody would go touch her." That's when, Caryl decided to set out her video camera. The video shows Prater slapping the child and telling her to eat her ravioli. After the child starts crying, Prater slaps the child again multiple times. A few minutes later, the video shows Prater taking Caryl's one-year-old by her arm, walking a bit, and she ends up dragging the little girl on the floor.
"I started crying when I watched it, and I was very angry," said Caryl. "I didn't understand why somebody could hurt a baby like that. No one should ever touch a child like that, ever, so yeah I didn't think twice about calling the cops." Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe says they couldn't have made the case without the tape.
"That's what child abuse looks like," said Doug Lowe, Anderson County DA. "That's inappropriate punishment. That's just so visual that you can, there's no debate about it. That's child abuse, in my opinion." Lowe says he feels Prater's sentence of five years probation, is fair.
"It's not a slap on the wrist," said Lowe. "She has to do 300 hours of community service. That's over two months of somebody's time having to work without getting paid for it. She can't be around kids in a daycare setting, so she is restricted in what she can do." Caryl says she's not sure if she's satisfied.
"I am to a certain extent, but I feel that she wasn't punished enough, not in my eyes," said Caryl. Caryl says she does know, if it wasn't for her video camera she may never have known what was really going on at home.
Cheryl Prater, 22 plead guilty to "intentionally causing bodily injury to a child". A judge ordered Prater five years deferred adjudication probation. That means, if Prater completes her five years successfully, the judge will remove the guilty conviction. If she violates her punishment, however, Prater could face ten years in prison. District Attorney Doug Lowe says Prater was also ordered to take anger management and parenting classes. Authorities say to avoid a similar situation, check all references when hiring a nanny, and if possible contact an agency to do a background check.