Arrest Warrant Details Allegations of Abuse at Wallingford Daycare

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There are new and disturbing details about what police say happened to several children at a daycare in Wallingford.

It’s all in the arrest warrant for Brenda Fornal and her boyfriend Grant Freer. The pair were arrested Tuesday.

Fornal faces several felony charges, including nine counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree. Freer was charged with conspiracy to commit risk of injury to a child.

Neighbors are surprised to hear of the alleged horrors that went on inside the house.

“I was floored. I was really shocked,” said neighbor Anne Marie Roggiero.

The arrest warrants outline the prolonged alleged abuse. For one eight-year-old child, it began at four or five years old. The document says nine children were beaten, one girl kept naked in front Freer, and several children were frequently forced into their own urine and vomit.

“And I’m so sorry for the kids and I feel horrible for them and the parents,” Roggiero said.

Fornal was often seen outside with the children and Roggiero says she was always kind to her. Fornal took in Roggiero’s son one afternoon after school and Roggiero said he had a great time.

The allegations of abuse came to light in August when an 11-year-old child made a four-hour audio recording using a phone tucked into his shorts. His mother listened and reportedly heard threats and abuse in the first three minutes.

In that recording, the warrant alleges Fornal could be heard talking to a six-year-old saying, “If you don’t answer me I’m going to cut your [expletive] tongue off.” The report says it was followed by sounds of the child being smacked around.

The older boy told investigators he made the recording because he didn’t want to leave the daycare knowing the other kids were being abused.

“It’s very disturbing and sad to hear that any child has to go through anything like this, whether it’s physical or verbal abuse,” said Officer Alex Torres of the Wallingford Police Department. “But I’m happy that our detective team did an amazing job.”

They began their investigation in August when that recording was shared with state officials. Forensic interviews were conducted with the children at Yale Child Abuse Clinic in New Haven.

Detectives found probable cause to charge Fornal. She was released on $125,000 bond. Greer was released on $1,000 bond.

No one answered the door at the home of the shuttered daycare on Ridgetop Road. But the warrant says the children who were once inside described Fornal as mean, hitting and kicking them every day and leaving a two-year-old child in a crib for five hours.

The child allegedly banged his head against the crib leaving a quarter-sized wound, and he would “eat large amounts of food” when he returned to his parents.

“There have been no calls for service for that residence so that’s why initially we were shocked to hear about this,” Torres said.

State records show Fornal has been licensed to operate a daycare since 1997.  

In a statement, the Office of Early Childhood said:

“When the CT Office of Early Childhood was informed of the serious allegations, the agency took immediate action to summarily (i.e., immediately) suspend her license. In lieu of participating in the adjudicatory suspension proceeding, the family childcare provider surrendered her license.”

The Department of Children and Families also investigated the allegations along with the Wallingford Police Department.

And neighbors say the charges don’t fit what they knew about her.

“She’s always been very kind,” Roggiero said. “She would text me and let me know my packages were at the door or if someone dropped something off. She was always outside with the kids. She would watch and everybody was playing and – I’m just really shocked.”

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