Kindergarten Owner Charged With 18 Counts of Abusing 11 Toddlers in Her Care

Police also arrest suspect in arson of day care center owner's home, who also stands accused of inciting others to attack the caretaker who was caught on film abusing the children

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The caretaker's home in Rosh Ha'ayin, Israel, July 6, 2019.
The caretaker's home in Rosh Ha'ayin, Israel, July 6, 2019. Credit: Israel Police

Carmel Mauda was indicted Sunday on 18 counts of abusing the helpless for mistreating toddlers at the day care she ran out of her Rosh Ha'ayin home. On Saturday, after Mauda's home was set ablaze, police arrested an 18-year-old suspect in the arson.

Mauda was indicted Sunday on 18 counts of abusing the helpless over the course of three weeks, from May 27 to June 16. The prosecution claimed in the indictment that Mauda abused 11 toddlers in her day care center.

Mauda was accused of beating the toddlers, aged three months to three years, tying some of them to chairs and forcing at least one of them eat food he had just thrown up. Police described her actions as unprecedented.

She will remain in custody until the next decision is made in her case, which the defense has requested be delayed until July 25, to give them time to review the indictment and respond to it properly.  

Attorney Iris Fiker Segel, who presented the indictment on behalf of the prosecution, noted that the crime of abuse carries a nine-year sentence for each count. She said the risk Mauda poses demands that she remain in police custody "considering the fact that she harmed toddlers and babies," and added that Mauda "took advantage of the parents' trust that was put in her hands in every sense, the most precious thing to them."

On Saturday, Mauda's home was burnt down in a suspected arson attack. After security cameras photographed the suspect, a resident of a northern West Bank settlement. He is expected to be brought before a Petach Tikvah court to extend his term in police custody on Sunday.

Traces of flammable substances were found on the ground floor of the building in which the suspected abuser, Carmel Mauda, housed her day care center. The fire caused no casualties but several homes nearby had to be evacuated. 

The suspect is also accused of inciting others to arson.

Members of Mauda’s family, who were home when the fire occurred, blamed incitement on social media and mainstream media for inflaming public sentiment against them.

Police received complaints about the abuse on June 19 and arrested Mauda two days later. Later they confiscated security camera footage showing some of the abuse. In one of the recordings, which is eight minutes long, she is sitting on top of a boy and choking him. In other recordings, she is seen forcing the children stand silently for four hours, whipping them with a towel and forcing the boy to eat his vomit.

An assistant was also arrested on suspicion of involvement. She was then released to house arrest. Her interrogation revealed that she both witnessed the suspected abuse by Mauda and also committed abusive acts against the children herself. The caregiver’s parents were also questioned by police under caution – as someone who might be charged with a crime – and then released from custody.