Two former New Jersey day care workers faced charges this past Monday for allegedly starting a "fight club" for the little boys and girls left in their charge. The charge alleges that 22-year-old Erica Kenny ad 28-year-old Chanese White encouraged preschoolers and kindergartners to fight each other on the playground of Lightbridge Academy. The two women even referenced the film "Fight Club" as a "model."
Union County Prosecutor Grace Park described the disturbing incidents which followed:
"About a dozen children—boys and girls between the ages 4 and 6—just fighting, throwing each other to the ground; hitting each other."
"Most parents would be astonished by the behavior."
As if that weren't outrageous enough, it appears that Kenny actually recorded these fights and Snapchatted them to a group of friends. Prosecutors are making the argument—and it's one that's hard to counter, given the evidence—that the two workers staged the fights for "pure pleasure."
The Snapchat videos themselves only last 10 seconds, but investigators were able to find the original video. Park notes that they
"don't believe there were any serious injuries at this point, but we are still investigating the case."
Neighbors of defendant White were astonished. They could not fathom that anyone would orchestrate such a sickening event, let alone someone as "normal"-seeming as White. Neighbor Betty Farinelli remembers her as
"nice, but you don't really know anybody, really."
Kenny and White have, unsurprisingly, been fired from their positions, and are facing five years and 18 months' prison time, respectively.
But Lightbridge Academy is sill reeling. In a recent statement, the Academy said that:
"As parents and caregivers, we are shocked and saddened by this isolated incident and we have assisted the prosecutor’s office from the start of its investigation into this matter. While no children were physically harmed during this incident, we have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who acts in conflict with the core value of Lightbridge Academy – the safety and well-being of children.”
But some are left wondering how Kenny and White were able to stage such an event (or events, if it emerges that the incident was not isolated) without any other staff noticing.