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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Charges Dropped for St. Louis Day Care Workers Accused of Running Toddler 'Fight Club'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 12:33 PM

A pair of St. Louis day care workers accused of encouraging young children to beat each other will not face charges.

The Post-Dispatch reports that prosecutors filed a memo Monday stating that there was "insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction" against Tena N. Dailey, one of the defendants, and that the case against the other, Mickala Guliford, is no longer publicly visible, indicating that it has been dropped.

Dailey's defense lawyer, Talmage Newton IV, told the daily that he is pleased with the decision.

The allegations became public in October, with a viral video shot by a ten-year-old and obtained by Fox 2. It showed teachers at Adventure Learning Center (5440 Gravois Avenue) encouraging young children in a classroom to fight one another.

The video had reportedly been recorded in December 2016. The child who shot the video heard his little brother crying and pressed record on an iPad to document the scene before sending the video to his mother. The mother then called the director of the day care, and the fighting was stopped.

But surveillance cameras inside the building recorded more than 30 minutes of fights between students that day, with children punching one another in the head as workers appeared to cheer them on. In some of the footage, Guliford could apparently be seen "jumping up and down in excitement," according to the Post-Dispatch.

Both Guliford and Dailey were fired and arrested, but at the time, no charges were brought. After Fox 2's video went viral in October, prosecutors initially said there had been insufficient evidence to file charges. They later reversed course, saying they had obtained additional evidence.

The pair were booked and charged in November with first-degree child endangerment, a class C felony. Charging documents alleged that a four-year-old suffered a black eye in the beatings.

A spokeswoman for the circuit attorney's office tells RFT that prosecutors presented evidence to a grand jury but failed to secure an indictment.

"In this case, the jurors believed the evidence was insufficient to move the case forward," the statement reads in part. Read the full statement below:
We present evidence in thousands of cases to the Grand Jury every year without fanfare or publicity - leading to thousands of cases. In this case, the jurors believed the evidence was insufficient to move the case forward.

We understand the community’s reaction to a case like this, and we share the same concerns about the safety of the children. Although we knew this was a close call, we believed it was the right thing to allow the Grand Jury to make the decision on this matter.
Editor's note: This story was updated shortly after publication to include the statement from the circuit attorney's office.
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