Grand jury adds 14 counts of aggravated child abuse to daycare worker

Published 12:16 pm Thursday, June 27, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A daycare worker who is already charged with murder is now facing 14 new charges of aggravated child abuse in connection following the March 25 death of an infant child at the former Tender Years Preschool & Nursery.

Demopolis Police Chief Rex Flowers said a Marengo County grand jury affirmed the murder charge and four previous charges of aggravated child abuse against Versa Mae Simmons, 68, and tacked on the additional charges, bringing the number of abuse charges to 18. Flowers said the murder charge carries a bond of $1 million, and each aggravated child abuse charge carries a $150,000 bond. The total bond that Simmons must meet in order to be released prior to the trial is about $3.7 million.

As of Thursday morning, Flowers said Simmons was still in the Marengo County Jail.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s just a sad situation,” Flowers said. “The additional charges presented to the grand jury were due to the ongoing investigation. And that investigation is still continuing.”

Flowers said that no other persons have been charged in the case at this time.

History of the case

The charges stem from a March 25 incident, in which first responders were called to the former Tender Years Preschool & Nursery for an unresponsive infant. The child was identified as 5-month-old Brayden Paul Robertson, son of Paul and Taylor Robertson of Demopolis. Robertson was taken to Whitfield Regional Hospital, where he later died.

Demopolis Police began an investigation into the incident. Four days later, Simmons was charged with the murder of the child. Four additional charges were added about 10 days later. The Marengo County grand jury met earlier in June and returned those true bills plus the additional 14 child abuse charges.

Russell Sellers, communications director for DHR, said the daycare’s owners turned in their license in mid-April, and no further action is likely by DHR against the business.

“Tender Years Daycare & Preschool voluntarily surrendered its license on April 19,” Sellers said in an email. “As a result, no hearings will take place and no due process is applicable.”

DHR visited the business on March 26 and noted deficiencies.

“A five (5) month old infant was asleep on the floor and was not checked on by staff for an undetermined amount of time. A staff person placed the 5 month old infant on a blanket and allowed the child to fall asleep. Child’s file is not present at the center,” the DHR report said.

The report was signed by facility director Jean Gray and a representative of DHR on March 26. It indicated that the deficiencies needed to be corrected by April 9.