Here is the story from the Des Moines Register. On September 25th 2009 police charged Melissa Watts with felony child endangerment in a case involving the brain injury of 4 month old Emiliano Ramirez of Urbandale. Allegedly, Watts is not a licensed day care provide. Allegedly, Emiliano was taken to Blank Children’s Hospital on September 15th 2009 after his grandmother picked him up and noticed that he looked pale, further tests revealed that the child had bleeding of the brain along with retinal hemorrhages. The condition was monitored for several days before the doctors had to drill into the child’s skull to relieve pressure on the brain. According to popular theory the injuries suggest that Emiliano was either shaken or slammed into a soft surface. You can draw your own conclusions.

On the same day another baby was taken to the hospital under similar circumstances. Arayu Rieman was also charged with child endangerment following a similar investigation. Doctors discovered bleeding on the baby’s brain and additional tests found previous similar injuries that were allegedly caused by shaking and were in different stages of healing.

The question of the day is how mothers and fathers can check up on the day care caretakers or the babysitter before the child’s life is endangered? The difficulty of checking-up on what goes on in the center versus what occurs in your home are very different. 

How do you know if the babysitter or someone in your house might be causing injury to your child?

A note of caution is in order for babysitters in your home. I've seen those reports where a parent sets up a video camera and surreptitiously records the image and voice of the babysitter and catches them red handed slapping or tossing the baby around.  That may seem like an easy way to catch the sitter but it may be illegal. I have no time today to research this issue in every state across the nation, so if you plan on doing it call a local lawyer. There is both state and federal legislation on this issue involving electronic surveillance.


Generally speaking it’s illegal to record a voice between two or more people when at least one hasn’t given permission for the recording. Normally this type of “secret” recording has the voice recorder on one of the persons; the person who is authorizing the recording. But when a camera is set up and you’re not home, then there is no person present who has authorized the recording. I know, I know it’s your home and your baby and you’ve given permission for the baby but the baby is too young to give permission and even though technically the parents may be able to give permission as if they were the child, you don’t want to be making that argument in a criminal court.  I’m trying to keep you out of criminal trouble. For you to do this you need to get permission from the babysitter or daycare center person or you need to shut off the sound recording. Another way you could do it is to have the babysitter sign a form giving permission to have their movements and voice recorded. It would have the added benefit of making the babysitter cautions that their behavior with your child may be recorded.


Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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