A daycare manager from central Israel who was filmed abusing young children has reportedly admitted to investigators that she is a “monster” and “Satan” during her interrogation, ahead of her expected indictment on Sunday afternoon.
Carmel Mauda, 25, is being held at Neveh Tirza prison in Ramle, where she is awaiting criminal charges in the case. She was arrested in June, but on Thursday, police released footage of the alleged abuse, leading to widespread anger against her and protests outside her home.
The graphic security camera footage showed Mauda tying up children, force-feeding them, smothering toddlers who refuse to fall asleep with blankets and physically abusing them.
The children in her care in the Baby Love center were aged three months to three years.
— ידיעות אחרונות (@YediotAhronot) July 7, 2019
According to Hebrew media reports, Mauda initially denied abusing the children. But when she was presented with the filmed evidence, she told investigators, “I am a monster,” and “I was Satan here.”
The case emerged after Mauda hired and fired eight different employees to work in her daycare center over the past year, the last of whom alerted the authorities to the abuse, the Walla news site reported. An unnamed assistant was also arrested on suspicion that she witnessed the abuse and may have also resorted to violence.
Prosecutors are expected to indict Mauda on Sunday.
Parents have launched a protest campaign since the footage emerged, with an additional 11 demonstrations planned across the country on Sunday, under the banner “The people demand an end to the violence.”
הגננת המתעללת האכילה בקיא, קשרה לכיסא, הכתה והתעללה בפעוטות: לפני כשבועיים התקבלה תלונה בדבר התעללות בתינוקות בפעוטון שנוהל בביתה של גננת בת 25 מראש העין. עם סיום החקירה, יוגש בקרוב כתב אישום נגד החשודה pic.twitter.com/TGejEEnrRo
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) July 4, 2019
Also Sunday, a teenager suspected of setting Mauda’s house on fire over the weekend will be brought before a court for an extension of his remand. Police said Saturday evening that they arrested the 18-year-old combat soldier from the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron in connection with the suspected arson.
The home of Mauda was damaged by the blaze in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin, as were several nearby residences. There were no reports of injuries in the fire.
Hebrew-language media said the suspect is related to parents of a boy who had previously attended the daycare. According to Channel 13 news, there is security camera footage of him at the scene of the fire.
Investigators said Saturday afternoon they believe the blaze started in a storage area of the building, where they found signs the fire had been set deliberately. Authorities said they had finished their inspection of the building and had sent evidence to a laboratory for further tests.
The home is also the site of the private Baby Love daycare center, where the alleged abuse took place.
Mauda’s lawyer Guy Ein-Zvi condemned vigilantism by those angry over the abuse.
“We understand the pain and anger of the parents but a red line was crossed. People took the law into their own hands, acting thuggishly and endangering lives,” he said in a statement. “Carmel’s trial should be held in court and not the town square.”
A lawyer representing parents of children who attended the daycare denied earlier in the day that they were involved in the fire.
“The parents of the children are angry and shocked over the grave crimes that were committed, but are not criminals and I have no doubt that a thorough investigation will conclude they have no connection to the fire,” Benjamin Malka, a lawyer for the families, told Hebrew media.
On Saturday night, a group of parents gathered outside the prison where Mauda is being held and staged a protest.
Parents are demanding changes to childcare oversight laws, including tougher sentences for abusive daycare workers and better regulations for supervision of daycare centers.
In recent years numerous cases of abuse have been reported including the killing of an 18-month old baby girl by a caretaker.
In June of 2018 the government came under fire for the continued delay of a proposed supervision law as ministries squabbled over funding the project. The law was finally passed in December, but only mandates security cameras in all daycare centers starting in September 2020, as long as 70 percent of the parents do not object.