Daycare operator restrained kids: employees

The trial of a Canmore daycare operator charged with assault got underway Monday, with the testimony of two former employees.

The trial of a Canmore daycare operator charged with assault got underway Monday.

Susan Lee Preece faces seven charges of physically assaulting the children she helped care for at Dragonfly Daycare, which she co-owned with her husband.

Two former workers at Dragonfly testified Monday, saying they had seen an angry Preece handling crying children quite roughly.

On one occasion, she forcefully shoved a crying two-year-old into a chair, they said, and on another occasion she held an infant down who refused to sleep at naptime.

One of the workers, Natalie Portlock, testified that after the chair incident, she heard Preece say, "This child is lucky I let it live."

Portlock said she couldn't believe someone in the business of looking after children could be made so angry by a crying child.

At least one former employee said Preece characterized children publicly with names attacking their intelligence.

Another described Preece lifting a crying infant from a crib and slamming him on a padded mat.

Preece's lawyer challenged the witnesses and raised the possibility  they were spreading damaging stories of daycare owner because they wanted to drive the business into bankruptcy and take over the operation.

The kids allegedly assaulted were all under the age of three and did not require medical attention, the RCMP said at the time the charges were laid.

Dragonfly Daycare started three years ago, with space for 80 children.

When she was released after being arrested last year, Preece was ordered not to go to her daycare or have any contact with the alleged victims.

A publication ban is in place prohibiting the release of the names of the children.

Preece is scheduled to testify on Tuesday.