3 daycare assistants charged with beating, abusing infants

Kindergarten workers confess after security camera footage shows them roughly handling children aged three months to three years

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a preschool (Nati Shohat /Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a preschool (Nati Shohat /Flash90)

Three kindergarten assistants were charged Sunday with abusing children in their care, including roughly handling and beating babies and toddlers between the ages of three moths and three years.

According to indictments filed at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court, the three confessed during interrogation to the crimes and explained that they had been “irritated.”

The case came as ministers were set to review a bill that would call for all centers caring for children up the age of three years to be equipped with security cameras.

Victoria Kubatko, 43, Katrina Kirliok, 36, and Polina Zabgorodney, 57, were all arrested and questioned at the end of March.

They were charged with multiple counts of attacking a minor or helpless person, and abuse of a minor or helpless person. The Petah Tikva nursery where the incidents happened was not named in the indictments.

Prosecutors asked that they be held until the end of proceedings or that they be released under restrictive conditions and not be permitted to take care of children or make contact with any of those involved in the case.

“The danger of these defendants is apparent from their confessions, in which they stress that they acted out of irritation,” prosecutors wrote.

“At various times during their work in the kindergarten the accused attacked the babies in the kindergarten with slaps to the face, shaking them, pushing their heads, hitting them, holding them forcefully by the arm and more,” the indictment said.

They are accused of various instances of picking children up by their arms — or in at least one case by the neck — throwing them down on cots, force-feeding them, and hitting them, including on the head.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation was set on Sunday to deliberate the bill requiring all childcare centers and nurseries to have security cameras.

The supervision law, which has been debated and delayed for years, passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum in January, but still has not been cleared by the ministerial committee for three additional votes that would make it law.

Last month a kindergarten teacher from the central Israeli city of Ramat Gan was remanded for the second time after evidence mounted that she had abused toddlers who were in her care.

A week earlier, 23-year-old Ina Skivenko was indicted for the manslaughter of 14-month-old Yasmin Vinta in Petah Tikva.

According to the charge sheet, Skivenko allegedly sat on the toddler, who suffocated and died in May. She is also accused of abusing babies in at least 10 separate cases by slamming them on the floor, throwing them on chairs, kicking them or shaking them.

Police in May also arrested Aviya Dahan, a 63-year-old kindergarten teacher, and her 28-year-old assistant Lihi Ben Daniel, after footage showed a series of violent incidents in their daycare canter in Givatayim, including pinching, slapping, insulting, shoving and scratching toddlers. They were being held under house arrest.

Parents have been complaining for years about the lack of supervision and background checks in daycare centers in Israel. The latest law on the issue passed in 1965, and many have argued that its content is outdated and out of touch with modern supervision standards.

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