A former Virginia daycare worker who organized a “baby fight club” was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
Kierra Spriggs, 26, was convicted in March of child cruelty for abusing multiple two-year-olds in her care at Minnieland Academy in 2013, the AP reports via CBS News. The abuse the children suffered included having their toes stepped on, being doused with water, having rubber bands snapped on their wrists, being fed spicy food, and being forced to fight one another.
On Sept. 29, Judge Carroll Weimer accepted the jury’s recommendation that Spriggs serve the maximum allowed sentence of 33 months in prison.
Citing sentencing guidelines that call for a jail term of less than six months and Spriggs’ lack of a criminal record, her defense lawyer, Patrick Foltz, asked that she be given credit for time served, meaning she would only serve seven more months in prison.
He also argued that there is no evidence that the children suffered any lasting injury.
Prosecutor Ashleigh Landers-Sutton argued that it is too soon to gauge what effect the abuse had on the children. Parents testified in court that they have exhibited aggressive and worrying behavior.
“These were children that did absolutely nothing to deserve the treatment that Ms. Spriggs” inflicted, Landers-Sutton said.
Spriggs has not given a reason as to why the abuse occurred and she did not speak at the sentencing hearing.
In a letter to Judge Weimer she wrote, “I am whole-heartedly apologetic of the hurt, humiliation and embarrassment this tribulation has brought us all.”
Judge Weimer chose to uphold the jury's sentence, saying that it reflects the voice of the community.
Foltz said he did not know whether Spriggs would appeal the court’s decision.
Minnieland Academy has been hit with civil lawsuits in the past month by more than a dozen families whose children formerly attended the daycare. Combined, the lawsuits are seeking $12 million in damages.
The daycare facility says it alerted Child Protective Services when the abuse allegations were brought to its attention by a teacher. During the trial, though, several teachers testified that daycare management was told about the abuse months before they alerted authorities.
The other daycare staffer who was part of the “baby fight club,” Sarah Jordan, was convicted in January on 13 felony and misdemeanor counts, including child cruelty and assault and battery, the AP reported.
Jordan denied the allegations against her and said workplace disputes with her co-workers were where the accusations stemmed from.
She was sentenced to nearly two years in prison.