Quantcast

Moms speak out on alleged abuse at Bellaire Learning Center - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Moms speak out on alleged abuse at Bellaire Learning Center

Posted: Updated:
BOSSIER CITY, La -

Watching little children get whipped, smacked, shoved, and hit with thrown objects. And watching it happen at the hands of people they trusted at a church-based child care.

It was way too much for a couple of moms. They're speaking out on the alleged abuse at Bellaire Learning Center in Bossier City.

It began when Jessica Ponder found a bruise on her two-year-old son's eye in May. She asked Jace what happened.

"He said Tammi, his teacher, had thrown a toy at him," Ponder says.

The next day, Ponder says of the teacher, Tammi Hilliard, "She said she didn't know what happened to his eye when I asked her. And she just acted like it was no big deal."

It soon became a big deal when Ponder was allowed to check the security camera video at Bellaire. And there it was on May 20th. Investigators say Hilliard is seen throwing a toy at Jace. She missed. Then she picked up another toy and heaved it, striking Jace in the eye.

"It was horrible. I could do nothing but cry at that point." Ponder remembers.

Police were called. The investigation was on. And soon another teacher was caught on video. Investigators identify Doris Williams as the teacher seen smacking a couple of children on the head. One of them is Jack, the three-year-old son of Christina Hennessy.

"I've gone through everything from sadness to feeling guilt for having my child at that center," Hennessy says.

Video evidence against both teachers kept mounting. In other scenes, a boy in a green shirt sheepishly walks to the teacher investigators say is Williams. The boy is positioned on the teacher's lap and is whipped multiple times with what investigators describe as "a rod."

Another video clip shows an open restroom door. A teacher pulls a boy's pants down and shoves him toward the toilet. Later, when the boy slowly returns, the teacher snatches him up and gives him a spank on the bottom.

And still another time, Hilliard is allegedly seen throwing another toy at another boy, hitting him in the head.

"Very egregious, criminal conduct," says Bossier Parish District Attorney Schuyler Marvin.

He has so far charged the women with a series of misdemeanors -- battery and failure to report child abuse -- although Hilliard faces one felony count of child cruelty. Marvin wants sentences to run consecutively so that the women could be locked away for possibly four years.

"When you're going to pick on a person that's defenseless and incapable of even stating what happened to them, that's the worst of the worst in my opinion," Marvin says.

Says Ponder, "We all loved those two teachers. You would never suspect anything out of either of them."

Hilliard and Williams were quickly fired by the church.

"We feel terrible that this happened," says Bellaire Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Randy Harper. "And we're going to do everything we can to make sure that it never happens again."

The church says they've made changes since the arrests. For one, parents now have online access anytime to the same security camera system that caught those alleged acts of abuse.

Pastor Harper also says there's a more extensive interview process for prospective teachers, more training, and more opportunity for parents to give feedback on their children's experience at Bellaire.

"They're way too late," Ponder says of those improvements. She and Hennessy are among the parents getting ready to sue. They hope their story is a lesson for others.

"You need to pay attention to your children," Ponder says. "Ask them questions about their day. And if they tell you something happened, not to ignore it, because they don't lie."

But a teacher might. Until there's video evidence.

Hilliard worked at the learning center for three years. Williams was there for nine years.

Hilliard's attorney, John Settle, declined comment for the story. Williams' attorney, Curtis Joseph, says they acknowledge the seriousness of the charges and will let the process play out in court. They face a hearing October 29th.

Ponder and Hennessy say they want the most severe punishment possible.

  • KTBS 3 InvestigatesMore>>

  • KTBS 3 Investigation finds low levels of chlorine in Shreveport's public pools

    KTBS 3 Investigation finds low levels of chlorine in Shreveport's public pools

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:00:13 GMT
    National data from the CDC reveals one in eight pool inspections found serious violations that threatened public health and safety and resulted in immediate closure. Pretty gross, right? 
    National data from the CDC reveals one in eight pool inspections found serious violations that threatened public health and safety and resulted in immediate closure. Pretty gross, right? 
  • Overton Brooks' Patient's appointment cancellation causes concern

    Overton Brooks' Patient's appointment cancellation causes concern

    Friday, July 11 2014 2:28 PM EDT2014-07-11 18:28:29 GMT
    We've been told by many veterans that they receive quality care at the V.A. hospital in Shreveport. But for some getting an appointment to see their caregivers is the challenge. According to our V.A., they do not have a problem getting patients seen quickly - and the numbers they report echo that conclusion. We’ve uncovered concerns, however, over how their numbers look so good - while patients are still waiting to be seen.“Certainly from my viewpoint here, as a veteran, as a physician, the c...
    We've been told by many veterans that they receive quality care at the V.A. hospital in Shreveport. But for some getting an appointment to see their caregivers is the challenge. According to our V.A., they do not have a problem getting patients seen quickly - and the numbers they report echo that conclusion. We’ve uncovered concerns, however, over how their numbers look so good - while patients are still waiting to be seen.“Certainly from my viewpoint here, as a veteran, as a physician, the c...
  • Overton Brooks Patient says V.A. is lying about access to care

    Overton Brooks Patient says V.A. is lying about access to care

    Friday, July 11 2014 2:14 PM EDT2014-07-11 18:14:50 GMT
    So far we've brought you a whistle blower employee, and then, after two weeks of waiting, you heard the official V.A. response. But it's said that there are three sides to every story.“We're not challenged for access at Overton Brooks, we can provide same day access, that's why we're encouraging same day access, that's why we're encouraging veterans to enroll into our system.” Those are the words from Interim Director at Overton Brooks V.A. Medical Center, Toby Mathew, during the news confere...
    So far we've brought you a whistle blower employee, and then, after two weeks of waiting, you heard the official V.A. response. But it's said that there are three sides to every story.“We're not challenged for access at Overton Brooks, we can provide same day access, that's why we're encouraging same day access, that's why we're encouraging veterans to enroll into our system.” Those are the words from Interim Director at Overton Brooks V.A. Medical Center, Toby Mathew, during the news confere...
  • ArkLaTex SlideshowsMore>>

  • ArkLaTex Adoptable Pets

    ArkLaTex Adoptable Pets

    Monday, July 28 2014 10:51 AM EDT2014-07-28 14:51:53 GMT
    There are lots of animals in the Ark-La-Tex who are looking for that perfect home.
    There are lots of animals in the Ark-La-Tex who are looking for that perfect home.
  • Bossier's 30th Young Marines class graduates

    Bossier's 30th Young Marines class graduates

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:33 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:33:50 GMT
    Photo courtesy Allen J.M. Smith, BPSOPhoto courtesy Allen J.M. Smith, BPSO
    Twenty-nine recruits ranging from eight years old to teen years earned the title as Bossier Sheriff's Young Marines as Class 30 graduated in front of a packed house of 200 people Friday night at the Bossier Sheriff's Substation in Bossier City.
    Twenty-nine recruits ranging from eight years old to teen years earned the title as Bossier Sheriff's Young Marines as Class 30 graduated in front of a packed house of 200 people Friday night at the Bossier Sheriff's Substation in Bossier City.
  • KTBS 3 St. Jude Dream Home opens for public tours

    KTBS 3 St. Jude Dream Home opens for public tours

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:24 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:24:04 GMT
    KTBS 3 St. Jude Dream Home photos courtesy of Courtney Avery.KTBS 3 St. Jude Dream Home photos courtesy of Courtney Avery.
    The 2014 KTBS 3 St. Jude Dream Home is now open for weekend tours.
    The 2014 KTBS 3 St. Jude Dream Home is now open for weekend tours.
  • Assignment EducationMore>>

  • No summer break for NSU art student

    No summer break for NSU art student

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:36 AM EDT2014-07-28 13:36:25 GMT
    Crystal Dunning, NSU StudentCrystal Dunning, NSU Student
    Crystal Dunning is spending her summer immersed in the arts. Dunning, a junior from Lafayette at Northwestern State University, is working at the Interlochen Center for the Arts as an intern in the College of Creative Arts.
    Crystal Dunning is spending her summer immersed in the arts. Dunning, a junior from Lafayette at Northwestern State University, is working at the Interlochen Center for the Arts as an intern in the College of Creative Arts.
  • Purses Enjoyed by Others: A fundraiser for educational scholarships for women

    Purses Enjoyed by Others: A fundraiser for educational scholarships for women

    Friday, July 25 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-07-25 22:00:15 GMT
    Shreveport is the host of Northwest Louisiana's chapter of  P.E.O. with an annual purse drive called "Purses Enjoyed by Others".  The drive is happening now until the event weekend of October 11.
    Shreveport is the host of Northwest Louisiana's chapter of  P.E.O. with an annual purse drive called "Purses Enjoyed by Others".  The drive is happening now until the event weekend of October 11.

  • Teachers prepare for start of new school year

    Teachers prepare for start of new school year

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:08 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:08:03 GMT
    Students may still be enjoying summer break, but teachers have been hard at work trying to learn Louisiana's new math and ELA standards.
    Students may still be enjoying summer break, but teachers have been hard at work trying to learn Louisiana's new math and ELA standards.
  • KTBS 3 News Tips

    Send your news tip or story idea to the KTBS 3 Newsroom.  Enter your email address below to get started.

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thank you for your submission to KTBS 3 News.  A member of our staff may contact you for more information.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • KTBS hosts online health forums, your input needed

    KTBS hosts online health forums, your input needed

    Monday, July 28 2014 3:37 PM EDT2014-07-28 19:37:04 GMT
    KTBS has joined up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana to get people around Shreveport eating better and moving more.
    KTBS has joined up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana to get people around Shreveport eating better and moving more.
  • Tip leads to discovery of missing man

    Tip leads to discovery of missing man

    Monday, July 28 2014 3:01 PM EDT2014-07-28 19:01:57 GMT
    Charles Smith, 79Charles Smith, 79
     A Shreveport man reported missing for more than a month, was located safely Monday afternoon in downtown Shreveport. 
     A Shreveport man reported missing for more than a month, was located safely Monday afternoon in downtown Shreveport. 
  • South Bossier Redevelopment Plan public meeting set

    South Bossier Redevelopment Plan public meeting set

    Monday, July 28 2014 2:52 PM EDT2014-07-28 18:52:09 GMT
    The City of Bossier City will host the second and final public meeting for the South Bossier/Barksdale Boulevard Redevelopment Plan on Thursday, July 31, 2014 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the CenturyLink Center.
    The City of Bossier City will host the second and final public meeting for the South Bossier/Barksdale Boulevard Redevelopment Plan on Thursday, July 31, 2014 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the CenturyLink Center.
Share Your Images
Powered by WorldNow
    Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KTBS. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
    Advertising | EEO Public File | KTBS 3 Public File | KPXJ 21 Public File