Preschool Owners' Severe Swaddling left Infants in Hazardous Conditions
LIVERMORE – The owners of a Livermore preschool that was shut down by state officials the previous month were booked Wednesday morning on felony child abuse charges. Officials uncovered troubling swaddling procedures which included binding babies’ arms and legs in an exorbitant fashion. Seven children in the Sharafs’ care were endangered.
Nazila Sharaf, 35, and Lida Sharaf, 33 were booked at their individual residences in Dublin and Mountain House. This occurred after the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office issued two felony arrest warrants as a result of a 100-page case filed by the Livermore Police Department, according to Officer Steve Goard.
Each sister was charged with three counts of felony child abuse, neglect and four counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect.
Police state that under the pretense of swaddling, the sisters allegedly tied up seven babies between the ages of 7 to 11 months in such a restricted mannerism that the babies were limited in their ability to breathe and they had no ability to move their arms and legs. In an attempt to make the infants sleep, the sisters allegedly bound the infants’ upper torsos and legs in blankets and anchored them down with large stead fast knots for long period of time. Officers additionally discovered that the sisters would toss blankets over the babies’ faces while their arms and legs were secured, which left them unable to salvage themselves if they needed air.
Officer Goard stated that perhaps what is most bothersome is that the sisters knew that three out of the seven children determined as victims in this case had upper-respiratory problems. All of the children could have easily died given the extremity of the swaddling.
During the interrogation, officers spoke with thirty parents of 19 infants. The interrogation of the sisters began on March 15, after the Social Services Department confided in the Police Department for help in the desistance of the Universal Preschool LLC, at 1040 Florence Road. The Dept. of Social Services recorded several licensing encroachments during a suprise audit, which included the disproportionate swaddling used on the young infants.
Detective Cindy Moore handed the case over to the district attorney’s office Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, the Sharaf sisters were served.
Universal Preschool has no affilation witht he Livermore school district. It is set in an infant center and day care structure with a combined limit of 42 children. The state hopes to revoke the facility’s license for good.
The Social Services audit was instigated by a former employee, 19, who was disgruntled and uncomfortable with the way the Sharaf sisters ran the facility.
Officer Goard said that previous to this incident, Lida Sharaf ran another child care program called Discovery Child Development Center, which was shuttered by Social Services in 2010 for the same swaddling offenses. The next year, she reopened with her sister as Universal Preschool.
The Sharaf’s other violations included allowing an infant to sleep in a car seat, and another in a high chair, in addition to the children’s facility being over capacity.
Allegedly, Lida Sharaf asked Social Services to hide evidence or not report encroachments.
Social services has issued bans against the sisters from ever working at a state-licensed child care facility again. The sisters are in custody at Santa Rita jail where each is held on $700,000 bail.
Tri-Valley Times: Livermore police: Preschool owners’ dangerous swaddling put babies at risk
Contra Costa Times: Livermore preschool closed for swaddling infants