Daycare operator convicted of assault on toddler in her care

An Aylmer daycare operator has been convicted of assaulting a toddler in her care in 2016.

Tracy Lee Wesley assaulted 2-year-old girl at home daycare, Gatineau, Que., judge finds

An Aylmer daycare operator was found guilty Tuesday of assaulting a two-year-old girl in her care. (Radio-Canada)

A Gatineau, Que., judge found Tracy Lee Wesley guilty Tuesday of assaulting a two-year-old girl at Wesley's home daycare in November 2016.

At the time, the girl and her four-year-old sister were both being looked after at the government-subsidized daycare, called Tracy's Tots.

The siblings were two of six children Wesley was charged with caring for during weekdays.

The girls and their family are not being named due to a court-ordered publication ban that protects their identities.

The two girls had been placed in Wesley's daycare three months before Nov. 28, 2016, when the incident occurred.

'Tracy choked my neck,' toddler says

Court heard that on that afternoon, their mother picked up the girls at the regular closing time despite Wesley asking parents to pick them up early. The girls were already bundled up in their winter coats and waiting at the door when their mother arrived.

When they got home and their mother asked how their day had been, the toddler said, "Tracy choked my neck," court heard.

It's been devastating for all of us.- Grandmother of toddler who was assaulted

The mother then asked the girl to repeat herself, and her four-year-old sister answered, "Tracy choked her neck." The girls then demonstrated what had happened by wrapping their hands around the mother's neck and the toddler's own neck.

The mother found red marks on the two-year-old's neck and a bruise near her ear, court heard.

She contacted the head of the Centre de la petite enfance (CPE), who advised her to take her daughter to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

Police were also called. Officers attended the daycare the next day and advised the woman she was under investigation.

Unlikely marks caused by anyone else, judge says

Wesley had claimed she never saw any marks on the young girl but theorized they could have been caused by her sweater being pulled and never reported any accidents in a book of records from that day, court heard.

While handing down his ruling Tuesday, Judge Jean-François Gosselin said Wesley's version of events did not add up.

He said it was unlikely the marks were self-inflicted, caused by another child, or by the girl's coat or sweater, since the marks were not superficial and still clearly visible two hours later when photos were taken.

Wesley's version would mean the marks "appeared like magic" between their coats being put on and taken off at home not long after, Gosselin said. He added the two spontaneous declarations that the girl had been choked — along with a third made to her grandfather days later — added to their credibility.

He said the girls' mother also had no reason to want a daycare she relied on to shut down.

'I am sorry,' said text sent next day

The judge also pointed out Wesley had admitted to being frustrated when the girls weren't picked up at the earlier time she requested.

Wesley had also sent a text to the girls' mother the next day, saying, "I am sorry."

Gosselin said he couldn't tell whether Wesley was expressing remorse because she knew something had happened to the girl the day before, or because the daycare had been closed for a police investigation.

After the verdict, Wesley declined to comment.

'I'll never put my kids in daycare again'

Outside the courtroom, the girls' relatives said they were relieved at the decision, but angry it happened in the first place and that the children have to live with the consequences.

"It's been devastating for all of us. We're not a violent family and [the children] never saw this before, so it was very shocking to them," said their grandmother, adding that they no longer trust adults they don't know and have had to grow up quickly.

"I just want people to know who this woman is and what she's capable of."

The girls' mother said she'll "never put my kids in daycare again," and added she hasn't returned to work since the incident.

Wesley is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

With files from Kristy Nease,,,,,,,,,,