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Eryka Westover allegedly body-slamming a 3-year-old child (KVVU/YouTube screenshot) and mug shot (LVMPD)

‘He deserved it’: Day care teacher allegedly caught abusing kids, blamed COVID restrictions for making them ‘more difficult’

Eryka Westover allegedly body-slammed a 3-year-old (KVVU/YouTube screenshot) and mug shot (LVMPD)

A 33-year-old day care teacher in Nevada has been arrested following multiple allegations that she was physically abusing the young children in her care, including one instance where she allegedly “body-slammed” a swaddled 3-year-old. Eryka Westover was taken into custody last week and charged with felony child abuse or neglect, authorities announced.

According to a news release from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the parent of a student entered police headquarters on April 1 and claimed that her child was being abused by a teacher at a learning institute in the 9000 block of Hillpointe Road in Las Vegas. Detectives with the department’s Abuse and Neglect Detail were tasked with looking into the allegations.

Following a preliminary investigation, detectives arrested Westover on Friday on suspicion of child abuse.

The day care where Westover worked was identified as Shenker Academy in Las Vegas’ Summerlin community. The institute is described as the largest preschool in Las Vegas with a commitment to excellence and creativity, according to its Facebook page.

Video footage obtained by Las Vegas Fox affiliate KVVU appears to show Westover screaming in the face of a tightly-swaddled 3-year-old, whom she then appears to shove facedown into a napping cot. Though the footage provided by the station does not have audio, Westover can reportedly be heard saying, “Yes, I just body-slammed you,” to the child immediately afterward.

Westover then says to the child, “You’re fine. Go to bed,” according to Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS. KLAS reported that the video was taken by a teaching assistant who later provided the footage to the child’s mother.

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    Following the incident, the same teaching assistant reportedly told the parent that they had seen Westover “slapping, hitting, and pinching children.”

    The parent of the allegedly body-slammed child told KVVU that Westover had allegedly been pinching her daughter because Westover said the child was a “bad listener.” The parent further explained that her daughter had difficulty communicating because of a speech delay.

    One of the teaching assistants told police that Westover would target the students she deemed to be more difficult than the rest of the class, KLAS reported.

    One such instance allegedly included a 3-year-old boy who did not like being sprayed with the hose during “water play,” per KLAS. While the class was outside one day, Westover allegedly grabbed the hose and sprayed the little boy until he fell to the ground crying. Westover also allegedly targeted the same boy by throwing kickballs at him, and when he would get hurt, she reportedly said things such as “He deserved it” and “That’s what you get.”

    In an interview with police, Westover allegedly said that she had never had any problems with the students at school until this year. She reportedly explained that her latest students were “more difficult” because they were born when restrictions for COVID-19 were still in place,” KVVU reported.

    Shenker Academy sent a statement to KVVU stating that Westover had been removed from her duties and that the day care would continue cooperating with authorities.

    “The teacher was placed on administrative leave immediately after the board was notified of these accusations and her employment has been terminated,” the institute said. “The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority.”

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