ABBEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Mary Clark, 71, was escorted into the Henry County Courthouse wearing an orange jumpsuit for her first court appearance Wednesday morning. She didn't speak a word.
Clark, who's the owner of J&M Childcare in Abbeville, is charged with felony aggravated child abuse. There's video circulating of some of the alleged abuse at the daycare facility. Clark is accused of choking and beating a child with a belt on at least one occasion.
"Anytime you have somebody in the community as long as Ms. Clark has and this happens, it does sadden you some and also saddens you for the victim's family," said Abbeville Police Chief Noel Vanlandingham. "You wish you didn't have to be a part of this, but that's our job, and we have to do it."
Witnesses say Clark also punished children by making them sit in dirty diapers for an entire day. She's also accused of pushing their faces into spilled drinks
and vomit and then making them lick it off the table.
"We're going all the way back to May 2014, because the investigation is leading us back that far," Vanlandingham said.
Clark is the only worker charged with child abuse, but the investigation is ongoing. Police say they have also identified the woman caught on camera.
"The mere fact that there were so many kids that this lady has taken care of over the years, it tends to be an issue for us," Vanlandingham said.
Clark's bond is set at $10,000. She is to refrain from having contact or supervising any children. Her daycare facility is currently closed.