https://www.publicopiniononline.com/story/news/crime/2018/12/03/miracle-bush-owners-accused-abusing-children/2191248002/?fbclid=IwAR3cP8rL0VyaZXl99__S4vXXgX16QleoVicQXrqsFSJ24Zpcuvgn045TqE4Shippensburg daycare center is now closed after its two owners were accused of subjecting the children to unorthodox punishments and other abuse, including restraining an autistic child in a high chair for hours.
The owners of Miracle Bush Learning Center, Michael Dewayne Nolan and Linda R. Nolan, both 63, are charged with one count each of felony false imprisonment of a minor, felony unlawful restraint of a minor and felony endangering the welfare of children, according to court documents.
State police were first notified about the abuse allegations on Oct. 19 after receiving a call from the center's director about an argument she had with Michael Nolan, which occurred in front of children.
The woman told authorities during an interview that the incident began when she and several other employees decided to quit over concerns about the way the owners treated the children.
Over the next few days, authorities interviewed other staff members about the Nolans' treatment of the children during their time working at the center.
All employees said children were punished by being forced to sit for long periods in bucket seats, or what documents describe as plastic seats that sit into a table and have a belt to prevent the child from getting up or falling. Police said interviews indicated Linda Nolan put children in these seats if she "couldn't control them," sometimes keeping them there for several hours.
One staff member cited an incident in which a 2-year-old boy who was too big for the seat was forced to sit in it anyway for up to eight hours a day, without any play time or breaks. She said he was only allowed out if he smelled of feces and needed to be changed, but no one was permitted to check to see if he had wet his pants. Linda instructed employees to get him out of the seat and put crayons in front of him 15 minutes before his parents arrived to "pretend he wasn't in the bucket since he got there," documents state.
Staff members reported several instances in which the owners were physically rough with children while punishing them.
An employee said she saw Linda grab a 3-year-old boy who was out of his seat by his arms and toss him into the chair, causing it to rock, court documents state. The owner then shook him from behind while still holding his arms, so his head snapped back and forth. Once he began to cry, police said Linda Nolan got in his face and started yelling at him, saying "why can't you sit down? Why can't you listen? What's wrong with you?"
Another staff member claimed Michael Nolan grabbed a 5-year-old boy who would not lie on his nap mat by his hood, and pulled him off the mat across the carpet. Documents show his mat was taken from him, and he was required to stand for the rest of nap time.
Linda Nolan is also accused of punishing children during nap time. A former director told authorities she would get physical with a 2-year-old girl who moved on her mat. She said Linda Nolan grabbed her multiple times by the collar and back of her pants, and slammed her down on the mat. The owner would also take the child's hand and hold her head down on the mat, stating, "This is when you have to do to show them who the boss is," court documents show.
In addition, the former director said Linda Nolan restrained a child with autism in a high chair when the child had "fits," saying, "I'm going to leave her there until she learns." Documents show this would last about three and a half hours.
Bathroom time was treated as a privilege at the child care center, according to a staff member. She said Linda Nolan forced two children to sit in their pull-ups for two to three hours. Even if they were wet and needed to be changed, the owner would feel their pull-up and tell them, "Well you weren't quiet, so now you have to sit in it," documents state.
Children were often required to sit still for hours with nothing to do. Police said this same employee said Linda Nolan never let them go outside, or would punish children by making them sit at a table with their heads down. She cited one incident in which preschoolers did this for about three and a half hours.
Another employee told authorities that Michael and Linda Nolan screamed at the children, and Linda Nolan withheld their snacks when she felt they were "bad." The two thought children were "born to behave" and punished them if they misbehaved, documents state.