FDA day care employee charged with neglect of infant

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - A Montgomery County day care employee is facing jail time after a one-year-old girl, left in her care, was found with a dislocated elbow and sprained wrist.

Nicole Bowman, 24, of Silver Spring, is charged with one misdemeanor count of Neglect of a Minor. A law enforcement says additional charges are possible.

The alleged abuse happened at White Oak Wonders, which cares for children of employees at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Silver Spring campus.

According to charging documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, Bowman was monitoring a group of children, including the injured infant, as they walked from the school gymnasium to a classroom. When Bowman handed-off the infant to her regular teacher, the child was crying. Those tears continued during "a class project, lunchtime, and up until nap time."

Nearly five hours after the sobbing began, staff at White Oak Wonders contacted the child's mother, who was working in an FDA building nearby. "Pale and drawn," is how the mother described her one-year-old daughter's face. A trip to a Gaithersburg doctor quickly determined the infant's tears were due to a dislocated left elbow and sprained left wrist.

Child Protective Services reviewed school surveillance video, which reportedly captured a disturbing scene: "the video shows [the child] dropping to the floor, and Nicole [Bowman] holding onto [the child's] arm, dragging her down the hallway."

Police say during questioning, Bowman admitted to hearing the one-year-old's arm "pop or snap" in the hallway, and that she "bawled if she moved her left wrist." When asked why she didn't immediately call for help, Bowman allegedly told detectives, "she was afraid."

"Oh my god, that is so frightening, I just can't believe it," Bowman's neighbor Cynthia Belt said. "I don't even know what to say, that's just totally disgusting, it just breaks my heart."

ABC7 visited Bowman's home along Smith Village Court in Silver Spring, but didn't receive a warm welcome.

"Nicole's not talking to anybody... I'm not discussing anything with you," a middle-age woman said, before shutting the two-story home's front door.

Staff at White Oak Wonders also remained tight-lipped Friday, referring all media inquiries to FDA public affairs, which did not return repeated phone calls or emails for comment.

On its website, the day care center touts itself as a "stimulating and caring environment" where teachers are "all highly trained, committed, and dedicated people who truly enjoy working in the field of early childhood education."

The mother, who ABC7 is not identifying, says the family doctor ultimately had to pop her daughter's elbow back into the socket. Despite the emotional and physical pain, a full recovery is expected.

"Children are so innocent and they don't deserve to be mistreated by anybody. You trust these people to take care of your children while you're at work doing things and then this... it's just crazy," Belt concluded.

Bowman, who is no longer employed by White Oak Wonders, is schedule to stand trial in Montgomery County District Court on May 27. If found guilty, a judge could impose a sentence of up five years in state prison.