ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) --Authorities are looking into some troubling accusations in the North Valley. An Atwater child care has been shut down after allegations of child abuse.
One Atwater mom said it was like any other Monday when she was on the way to Coco's Daycare to pick up her son. She asked to keep her identity private to protect her son's privacy but said her five-year-old who was usually still playing when she arrived seemed different on August 8th.
"That day he was at the door and ready to go with his slippers on, with his tablet, and his brother was ready at the door with him."
The mom said it wasn't until the drive home that her son spoke up, asking if she heard what happened. What he said next left her speechless.
"She got mad that I threw up, and I made a mess and didn't eat my food. She grabbed my neck , pulled my hair, and pinched me because I wouldn't finish my food."
Coco's Daycare received a temporary shut down from the state department of social services
"I was heartbroken, not because of just my child but then there's other kids in there."
Maria Mortera, the owner of the child care ran from her home, is accused violating the personal rights of a child. The allegations claim Mortera punished a five-year-old for vomiting by placing him in a chair for a long time-out, followed by holding and bruising his neck while forcing him the child to eat, and strapping a child to a toilet seat with a belt for 45 minutes.
Mortera's lawyer said, "There will be a hearing in front of the administrative board that will be set within 30 days," and that "the allegations are erroneous." The Merced County Sheriff's Office is now looking into the case.
"This is an ongoing investigation and no arrests have been made, and that's all the information I can release at this time," said Under-Sheriff Jason Goins, Merced County Sheriff's Department.
The mother of the victim said her son now has to sleep with lights on and has woken up in the middle of the night screaming because of the alleged abuse-- but she's glad he spoke up.
"I was proud of my son and I told him, 'you are my hero for telling me because you're not helping me but helping the other kids that are in the daycare.'"
Other violations the daycare received were that Mortera failed to keep the facility safe for children by not having proper fencing around a pool area, having assistants to care for children who did not have criminal background checks, and failing to lock a shed containing insecticides and fertilizer.