Nanny-Cam Leads to Babysitter Arrest

ByABC News via via logo

H O L L Y W O O D, Fla., Oct. 13, 2003 -- When Jennifer and Brett Schwartz noticed that their infant daughter seemed unsettled around their babysitter, the couple became curious, and installed a nanny-cam just for their own peace of mind.

The Hollywood, Fla., couple — who suspected the baby was just going through separation anxiety — were shocked at what they saw.

"We were horrified," Jennifer Schwartz said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "This is someone we trusted and welcomed into our home to take care of our daughter," she said.

Police say the Schwartz's videotape showed babysitter Claudia Muro, 29, shaking the child. Muro was arrested Thursday and charged with four counts of felony child abuse.

"They noticed some very disturbing and repugnant views on the tape of the nanny shaking the child and basically snapping the child's head back and forth," said Hollywood Police Capt. Tony Rode.

The charges stemmed from two clips taken on Sept. 24, and pulled from hundreds of hours of video. In one clip, police say that Muro was shaking the baby so that her head snapped back and forth. She then laid the baby on her lap and kissed her forehead.

In another clip, police say that Muro raised the baby above her head and then slammed her to the floor three or perhaps four times. The babysitter's back is to the camera and the lower view of the baby is blocked by the woman's body.

No Injuries Found

There were no visible injuries to the baby, and the child underwent a battery of medical tests, which also failed to find any signs of injury.

Brett and Jennifer Schwartz called police after they viewed the tapes from the nanny-cam Wednesday. They said they were in shock because they thought they really knew Muro. Before hiring the babysitter, the couple said they put her name through a series of background checks.

"Just as backup, we hired an investigator to do a background check and both of the background checks came back with out anything," Brett Schwartz said. "We felt that we had somebody that we can trust that didn't have anything in her past that we needed to worry about," he said.

Jennifer Schwartz, a social worker, and Brett Schwartz, an attorney, hired Muro to stay with their baby while they both worked during the day.The first-time parents said the woman was highly recommended by a local child care agency.

Brett Schwartz says this incident should worry other parents who have their children in someone else's care.

"Even though we did everything we possibly could, people need to maintain their suspicion because, you know, a stranger with a resume and a good reference is still a stranger in your house," Brett Schwartz said.

Allison Gillian, Muro's attorney, says the Schwartzes and the police are rushing to judgment. She believes the footage is being mischaracterized.

"I believe it can actually allow someone to be very misled as to what occurred here," Gillian said. "I think that people are rushing to judgment looking at this particular angle we are focusing on, which can be very unclear," she said.

Gillian points out that Muro is also kissing the baby and caring for her on the tape.

Muro is being held on $152,000 bond, which Gillian will try to get reduced.

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