The manager of a daycare center, convicted of abusing nearly a dozen infants and toddlers, began her prison sentence Thursday as relieved parents celebrated outside the walls of the Neve Tirtza facility.
Carmel Mauda, the head of the Baby Love daycare in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin, was sentenced earlier this year to nine and a half years in prison.
Mauda arrived at 6:30 a.m. with an Israel Prisons Service escort that was arranged due to the demonstration at the prison held by parents of children who had been sent to her daycare.
Covering her head, Mauda was quickly hustled from the car into the prison.
After she had disappeared inside, the parents celebrated, breaking into cheers and opening bottles of champagne.
“We went through two and a half years of complete upheaval,” said Moriah Koaliv, mother of Ariel, one of the children who was abused. “What his mind went through, no one can understand or comprehend.”
“Ariel is celebrating his birthday, and I am happy that the gift he will get this year is that the person who harmed him so much will finally be punished and go to prison,” Koaliv told the Walla news site.
But, Koaliv noted, many parents still harbor feelings of guilt that it took so long for them to understand what was going on in the kindergarten.
“For us as parents, the bad feeling that we didn’t see and didn’t know, will stay with us for a long time,” she said. “We are working very hard to rehabilitate the boy, his brothers and ourselves because it impacts the entire family.”
“Today, from my point of view, justice is really done and perhaps I will be able to breathe a little, at least until the trial of Liraz Natan, her assistant,” she said.
Natan is also accused of abusing children in her care.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) September 30, 2021
Yossi Hevra, whose daughter Lin was in the daycare, told Walla that “justice has been served” and that “between the prison walls” is where Mauda belongs.
His daughter, he said, is fighting every day to return to normal, “to rebuild her trust in people and to believe that she is surrounded by love and no one will hurt her anymore.”
Mauda — now 28 — was convicted in December on 18 counts of child abuse, in a case that sparked outrage and protests across the country, including an arson attack on Mauda’s family home, which had housed the daycare.
The court found that she employed systematic violence against 11 children, aged three months to three years old, between May 27 and June 16, 2019.
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
Graphic security camera footage released by police showed Mauda tying up children, force-feeding them, smothering toddlers who refused to go to sleep with blankets, and physically abusing them.
She was sentenced in July 2021 and was also given a one-year probation term and a NIS 400,000 ($121,984) fine by the Lod District Court.
Explaining his decision, Judge Ami Kobo said he took into account Mauda’s expression of remorse, as well as the testimonies from several mothers of the children she abused. He also factored in the backlash Mauda has already suffered, including the arson attack, and the fact that she had a prior criminal record.