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Two more daycare workers charged in connection to Lawrence School child abuse case

This week, 52-year-old Kathryn M. Ascher and 27-year-old Annemarie E. Fraker have both been charged with one count of failure to act to prevent bodily harm to a child.
HEATHER MILLER
Posted at 4:57 PM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 09:56:50-05

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Two more daycare workers have been charged in connection to the ongoing child abuse investigation at Lawrence School after prosecutors say they failed to report concerns.

Heather Miller has already been charged with child abuse after she allegedly slammed a baby into a crib and held him down until he struggled to breathe. She is now facing three more charges of physical abuse of a child.

49-year-old Miller made her way back to the Waukesha County Courthouse on Thursday to plead "not guilty" to the now five charges against her.

This week, 52-year-old Kathryn M. Ascher and 27-year-old Annemarie E. Fraker, two former administrators at the former Lawrence School, have been charged with one count of failure to act to prevent bodily harm to a child.

ALLEGED DAYCARE ABUSE:

According to a criminal complaint, on Aug. 29, 2022, an officer spoke with a parent who said a teacher told her she saw Miller abusing her son.

The teacher told a detective that on Aug. 17, 2022, after she witnessed Miller abusing a baby, she ran to tell staff what was happening.

The complaint says the teacher told the facility director, identified as Ascher, and assistant director, Fraker, and the owner about what Miller was doing. Fraker and Ascher told the teacher they would look into it.

After no action was taken, the teacher completed a written statement about what happened and handed it to Fraker while Ascher was standing there, the complaint says. The teacher told them it was “child abuse and needed to be looked into and taken care of.”

The teacher said she told Fraker and Ascher that if Miller were to remain employed, she needed to be placed in the same room as Miller in order to protect the children.

By Aug. 25, 2022, Miller was still employed and the teacher was not placed in the room with her. The teacher then told the parent that her child was not safe around Miller. The parent then requested her child be placed in another room.

The mother told a detective that her child was ill over the past several weeks following the Aug. 17 incident.

When the State Licensing Specialist made an unannounced visit to the Lawrence School on Sept. 2, 2022, the owner, Ascher, and Fraker all denied any knowledge of the incident or concerns from staff, the complaint says.

It was confirmed that at no time did anyone report the Aug. 17 incident to the police or the Waukesha County Child Protective Services.

Detectives then spoke with more teachers regarding Miller and learned of more victims. The complaint says Miller once slammed a child’s head down onto the bottom of a crib. After a teacher witnessed it, she immediately alerted Ascher and Fraker. She was told they would look into it and speak with Miller. When the teacher showed Ascher and Fraker the child’s swollen face, she was told to “wait and that maybe the swelling would go down.” Ascher and Fraker allegedly told the teacher that the child’s parents did not need to be told because there “wasn’t an incident report created.”

The parent told a detective she was never made aware the injury was caused by Miller. A pediatrician said the child’s injury was likely broken blood vessels.

A teacher also reported seeing Miller slam a separate child in his crib. Miller allegedly then wrapped the child so tight in his crib that he couldn’t move or get up. When reported to Ascher and Fraker that “Miller had done it again,” they again said they would look into it, the complaint says.

A detective spoke with a woman who said she quit working at the Lawrence School after witnessing Miller grab a child by one arm and fling him in the air “a distance of approximately 8-10 feet.” The child then bounced off a boppy pillow and hit his face on the floor, the complaint says. After reporting it to Ascher and Fraker, the teacher was told to calm down and that they were looking into it.

There were also reports of Miller forcing infants and toddlers to sleep and eat at the same time, as well as physically restraining them.

A detective interviewed Fraker on Sept. 14, who said she and Ascher talked with Miller two weeks after the Aug. 17 incident was reported to them. She said they had plans to eventually terminate Miller. She also admitted that neither she nor Ascher contacted the child’s family about the alleged abuse.

Ascher told a detective she should have reported the abuse concerns to authorities. She said a discipline letter was created for Miller, which Miller signed. Detectives have never been able to locate the letter, the complaint says. She denied knowing about any injuries but admitted to never checking any surveillance video.

Detectives found a handwritten resignation letter from Miller dated Sept. 5, 2022.

Detectives downloaded and reviewed text messages from both Ascher and Fraker’s phones. On Sept. 2, Fraker texted “Boyfriend” about the “state” responding to the daycare due to a “complaint about a teacher.” The boyfriend responded, “Is it the teacher that practically abuses kids?” and Fraker responded, “Yes.”

If convicted, Miller faces a maximum of over 40 years in prison and over $65,000 in fines. If Ascher and Fraker are convicted, they face a maximum of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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