North Port Police Department, North Port Florida
The North Port Police Department has arrested two individuals concerning abuse of children at the Building Blocks Children’s Center located at 2555 Toledo Blade Blvd. in North Port.
Earlier this month, NPPD received a report from a concerned parent that their child had visible marks and bruises after attending the center. Since then, detectives have conducted a number of interviews and gathered evidence. NPPD has been working alongside child protection experts, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Florida Department of Health.
NPPD has now charged 51-year-old Evelyn Jennings with one count of Abuse Without Great Harm and 60-year-old Cindy Desrosiers on three counts of Failure to Report Suspected Child Abuse as a mandatory reporter. All counts are considered felonies.
Through the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Jennings willfully abused the 3-year-old victim by intentionally inflicting physical injury upon the child and committing an intentional act by grabbing the victim by his arms and legs, which resulted in physical injury. Other accusations have also surfaced, including other previous allegations of similar incidents made against Jennings, who has been fired from multiple daycare facilities.
Despite witnesses, and the Center’s leadership being made aware of the incident, Jennings did not receive any reprimands, nor was anything documented or reported to DCF. Desrosiers is the appointed director of the facility and was made aware of the ongoing allegations of child abuse by staff and parents. Desrosiers failed to report the incidents and also prevented another teacher from reporting them. Any adult professional who works with children is a mandated reporter. This means that they are legally responsible for reporting suspected or disclosed abuse.
“While we take all crimes seriously, one of the greatest responsibilities we have in law enforcement is helping those who cannot speak out for themselves,” says North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison. “If you hurt a child in North Port, you can count on hearing from us.” NPPD commends all the parents who have taken part in this investigation and provided information and evidence surrounding the abuse.
This is an active and ongoing investigation. Both DCF and the Florida Department of Health are continuing to look into the center. If you have any additional information, please contact NPPD’s tip line at 941-429-7382.
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