Okemah Day Care Workers Accused Of Feeding Toddler Hot Sauce
OKFUSKEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - Two Muscogee Creek Nation day care workers have been charged with felony child abuse after police say they fed habanero hot sauce to a 13-month-old boy.
Rosie Hicks, 49, and Tracy Owens, 36, were arrested by Okemah Police after Department of Human Services workers reported the alleged crimes. Police say the women admit to buying the hot sauce and feeding it to the toddler.
According to Okfuskee County court documents filed Thursday, video surveillance tape shows the Muscogee Creek Nation Child Development Center workers put a plate of food before a toddler – named C.F. – on a high chair tray.
Shortly after C.F. starts eating from the plate, the child appeared to be in distress, the affidavit states.
"While C.F. is distressed Rosie Hicks appears to be laughing," the document states.
When interviewed by the police, day care worker Tracy Owens said she bought the bottle of habanero hot sauce at the Homeland store in Okemah on March 7, 2011, at the request of co-worker Rosie Hicks.
Owens said she witnessed Rosie Hicks put some of the hot sauce into Dylan's lunch plate later the same day. Owens then put the plate in front of the child on the high chair tray.
"Tracy stated that after eating the 'habanero' sauce, C.F. was crying because he was burning and in pain," the court document states.
When police interviewed Rosie Hicks, she admitted to putting the hot sauce on the child's plate and laughing while he cried. She said she knew it was wrong but that she did it "because of the stress she was under at work."
Hicks also admitted to making the child fall on one occasion while he was standing and balancing by holding onto a table. She said she didn't apologize or help him get up, according to the affidavit filed in Okfuskee County court.
"Very shocked. It's unforgivable," Brenda Chaffin said.
Brenda Chaffin is a grandmother. She and her daughter are disgusted about the accusations against Rosie Hicks and Tracy Owens, even though the Chaffins have no connection to the day care.
"If you don't like your job, don't work there you know?" Kaitlin Chaffin said. "Don't take it out on little kids."
"When you leave your child with some place like that, you are trusting those people to take as good a care of them as you would," Brenda Chaffin said.
The boy's grandfather says the child was at the school for about four months. He's now at another day care.
Hicks has been charged with two counts of felony child abuse by injury, Owens with one count. Both women will return to court April 19.