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Three arrested in connection to child abuse investigation at Lexington child care center

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Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 12:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 7:52 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - Three workers at Windsor Academy, a Lexington childcare center, are facing charges in connection with a child abuse case, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

Shayna Nicole McKnight, 36, is charged with infliction of great bodily harm upon a child. Amy Marie Grice, 38, and Jeannie H. Locklear, 49, are charged with obstructing justice, according to warrants.

Elaine Harkey, owner of Windsor Academy, said she is “devastated” about the situation.

“This is the most horrible situation I could ever have imagined,” she said. “We love children. It’s heartbreaking to me to think that a child would be hurt.”

Sheriff Jay Koon said the case started a month ago with a call from the child’s mother from Windsor Academy in Lexington. The daycare told the mother of the child that their leg was hurt in the railing of a crib.

Doctors determined that the child’s leg was broken.

Detectives asked to review the video from inside Windsor Academy. Grice and Locklear told deputies that the camera system wasn’t working when the child was injured.

Detectives determined that Grice, the assistant director, and Locklear, the director at the center, had taken steps to delete the video after they watched it. However, Koon said that detectives were able to eventually recover the video.

The video allegedly shows McKnight, the infant room teacher, forcefully folding the child’s leg under their body and flipping them into the crib while still holding their left leg.

“Based on detectives’ review of the video, the child was crawling and playing without any visible pain before the incident, then crying and unable to put weight on the left after the incident,” Koon said.

When asked about the specific allegations, Harkey said it is “unimaginable” to her, and that she has not reviewed the video in question.

“I knew nothing of it,” she said. “And I suppose I should have, but being that I trusted our director, who has been arrested, she’s been an employee for 18 years and has done a wonderful job. The parents have loved her, and this is just out of character.”

Harkey said the center intends to re-open on Monday.

WIS spoke with one parent on Friday who said she feels “physically sick” she said she heard nothing about the alleged abuse before the arrests but would not feel comfortable sending her child back there on Monday if they re-open.

She believes this would not be enough time for an internal investigation to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

When asked to respond to these concerns, Harkey said “we have a center full of wonderful teachers who are doing a wonderful job.”

“One person who does this unforgivable thing is going to tarnish this whole center?” she said. “I mean they should feel confident bringing their child on Monday because those same teachers who were watching their children so well for so long are still there.”

Harkey added that Windsor Academy has experienced no incident throughout its 25-year existence.

WIS asked the South Carolina Department of Social Services, which is assisting LCSD in the investigation, whether the center can re-open on Monday.

The Department of Social Services sent this statement in response: “DSS is participating in the ongoing investigation regarding Windsor Academy with local law enforcement in Lexington County. Since this is an open criminal investigation, the agency is unable to provide any details or information.”

On Friday morning, McKnight, Grice and Locklear were arrested. They are being held in the Lexington County Detention Center.

Harkey said they will not be allowed back on the premises of Windsor Academy.

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