A woman who served as the director of a Christian preschool has admitted to pulling a knife on two children under her care and threatening to cut their fingers off.
This beacon of Christian morality is Adetokunbo O. Akinnaso, formerly the director of Dawn to Dusk Christian Childcare and Learning Center in New Jersey. She pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree child abuse. Despite the serious charges, and the admission of guilt, the prosecutor has agreed to recommend probation and no jail time.
In an attempt to discipline two young children Feb. 28, Akinnaso put a steak knife into their hands and told them she would cut their fingers off and throw them in the trash if they kept misbehaving, according to authorities and a report by the Department of Children and Families Office of Licensing. They weren’t injured.
She was immediately removed from her job, a school district official said.
Raymond Moss of Plainfield, the father of one of the victims, is incredulous that Akinnaso won’t face more than probation for threatening children with a weapon. He also questions why Akinnaso is not facing weapons or threats charges, but said the prosecutor’s office told him the charges filed are the ones they thought they could prove.
Moss said his son, Elijah, is normally a “bundle of joy” but was traumatized by the incident and doesn’t like to talk about it. “As soon as we sit him down and try to have these conversations, he goes to another place,” Moss said in an interview in July.
This is pretty much the dictionary definition of child abuse. Unfortunately, unless more evidence comes to light, there won’t be any additional charges. (The office didn’t comment publicly on why other charges weren’t pursued.) That decision is questionable, though, given how another staff member witnessed the incident. It’s not like the charges are built solely on the allegations of children. However, as a first-time offender, it may have been an uphill climb for prosecutors to get more than probation in this case.
Fortunately, the judge is in charge of deciding the length of the probation Akinnaso faces.
The prosecutor’s office will recommend she be sentenced to probation but the length of the term will be up to the judge, [spokesman Mark] Spivey said. As part of the plea, Akinnaso also agreed to have no contact with the victims or their families and to never seek employment for a job where she would work with children, Spivey said.
That’s a start. But there are still plenty of jobs out there that don’t involve direct contact with children but still have plenty of indirect contact. We don’t know what she’s capable of, and we can’t trust God to prevent another incident that could traumatize more kids.
At least she was exposed for what she did. Hopefully, this encourages more people to think twice before placing their children in the care of a faith-based center (even outside the Catholic Church) that might have less strict standards about who can work for them.