Brandywine child care provider faces abuse charge

Published 9:43 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - A Niles Township child care provider, who recently ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Brandywine Public Schools board of education, has been charged with third degree child abuse.
Elsa Hemphill, 54, of 2921 Adams Road, is accused of striking a child in her care repeatedly with a fly swatter, leaving multiple bruises and abrasions on the child's face, neck, back, buttocks and legs.
Hemphill was arraigned on Friday, July 30, in Fifth District Court in Niles on the charges.
She was released after posting 10 percent of a $5,000 court-ordered bond and has been ordered to have no contact with the victim, who is eight-years-old, the victim's family, or any other person under the age of 18.
Telephone calls to Hemphill's home in Niles, seeking comments on the allegations, went unanswered.
Charges against Hemphill stem from an incident which occurred on July 26.
The mother of the child complained to Niles Township Police after picking up her child from Hemphill's care at about 4 p.m. that day.
Court records indicate the woman noticed bruising and red marks on the left side of her son's face and neck. When she asked him about it, the child told his mother he had gotten in trouble with Hemphill for taking another child's shoes. He told his mother Hemphill "whipped" him several times in the back of his neck and face and legs with a fly swatter.
The child's mother reported the alleged abuse to Niles Township Police. Court records say the officer also noticed several red marks, abrasions and bruising on the child's neck, back, left side of his face and a bruise on his right thigh.
On July 27, Hemphill was interviewed by a Niles Township Police officer and allegedly admitted to swatting the child on the buttocks with a fly swatter. She allegedly told the officer that the fly swatter "bounced off his wrist and struck his leg."
Hemphill allegedly claims she did not strike the child on his back, neck or head.
The State of Michigan Family Independence Agency has suspended Hemphill's license as a family day care home provider and given notice of its intent to revoke her certification as a care provider.
In a press release, a spokesman for the state's Family Independence Agency said Hemphill has operated a family day care home since Feb. 27, 1998. She was certified to provide care for up to six children.
The Family Independence Agency report alleges that Hemphill struck the child "with a fly swatter and fly swatter handle causign multiple bruises and abrasion's on the child's face, neck, back, legs and buttocks."
Hemphill is being represented by attorney James Mequio of the law firm of Mequio, Peterson and Smith of Portage.
A pre-exam is scheduled for Aug. 13 at 9 a.m. before Judge Dennis Wiley in the Berrien County Trial Court in the Niles South County Building.
An exam is scheduled before Wiley on Aug. 17 at 8:30 a.m., also in the Niles courthouse.