PHOTO: Two former employees of BrightPath Maple were arrested and charged with five and six counts of assault in September of 2021. On Thursday, one of those employees pleaded guilty to all of the charges against her. (Greg Bruce/CBC)
Magdelene Vasanthkumar, now 52, worked at BrightPath Maple on Maple Avenue — one of two locations owned by BrightPath Early Learning Centre and Child Care in Milton, Ont.
Security video from the daycare that was submitted as evidence in the case shows Vasanthkumar slapping children, kneeing them, pulling their hair, twisting their ears and dragging them across the floor.
Vasanthkumar pleaded guilty in a Milton courtroom on Thursday to five counts of assault.
A judge handed her a 15-month conditional sentence to be served in the community, with the first seven months to be completed in home confinement. She was also given three years of probation.
The mother of one of the victims says Thursday’s sentence brings some closure but doesn’t go far enough.
“This is not fair. I feel this is not the justice I was looking for — these are children,” she said. CBC News is not naming her to protect the identity of her son because he is an underage victim.
“She deserves to go to jail, for sure. The pain that she has caused to every child, and to us as parents — words can’t describe it. She should suffer, just the way we suffered.”
The mother of two spoke out in November of last year after she was informed two former staff members assaulted her toddler at the centre. She says she watched videos at a police station of her son, who was nearly two years old at the time, being kicked, struck, kneed and dragged.
Both workers were charged at the time with assault after an investigation by the Halton Regional Police Service.
Vasanthkumar’s offences all occurred in 2020. She was charged on Sept. 29, 2021.
The case against a 22-year-old woman who faces six counts of assault is still before the courts.
At the time of the allegations, BrightPath Kids said it fired the employees and supported investigations by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and Halton police.
“Mistreatment or unkind behaviour towards children is completely unacceptable and will never be tolerated at any of our centres,” the company said in a statement in November of last year.
Vasanthkumar had the opportunity to address the court and the victims during her sentencing on Thursday, but chose not to say anything.
“She didn’t apologize … she didn’t explain why she did this,” the toddler’s mother said.
“I was waiting for her to say why she did this.”
Her son was enrolled at BrightPath for four months in 2020 before she pulled him out, having noticed he had been acting differently. Specifically, she said he was waking up crying at night, being extra clingy and only wanting to sleep on her chest.
After learning of the assaults, the behaviour started making sense to her and her husband.
The mother says Halton police asked her in September, 2021 to view seven to 10 videos from the daycare, taken in January of that year, to identify her son.
“The first video I watched, I just burst into tears,” she told CBC Toronto in November of last year.
“Poor child, he wasn’t doing anything,” she added as she cried. “I saw the way he was crying; there was so much hurt.”
At the time, BrightPath said it carried out a full review of its policies and other measures, including staff training, to ensure a similar situation doesn’t occur again.
The company also said it communicated directly with the parents of all the children involved to explain what happened.
The toddler’s mother says her son has undergone therapy but has not fully recovered from the trauma.
“There was a huge impact on him at the time,” she said Thursday.
“I do see some improvement but I don’t know what’s coming in the future.”
With files from Greg Ross, Angelina King and Julia Knope