Dorothy Daphene Kelly, Palm Beach County Head Start teacher, charged with child abuse, imprisonment

Police say she locked 4-year-old alone in bathroom

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A Palm Beach County Head Start teacher has been charged with child abuse and false imprisonment after police said she was caught on surveillance video locking a 4-year-old student in a dark bathroom.

Dorothy Daphene Kelly, 46, was arrested Sunday evening for an incident recorded on Jan. 31.

On Feb. 1, West Palm Beach police were called to the school at 100 N Chillingworth Drive after the victim's parents noticed bruises all over their child's legs.

The parents, along with school officials, reviewed surveillance video of Kelly's classroom and called police.

The video, recorded at 12:56 p.m., shows Kelly forcefully placing the young girl inside of a dark classroom bathroom alone and shutting the door, according to an arrest report.

"It appears on the video that the victim tried to get out of the bathroom several times by opening the door, but [Kelly], standing outside the door, pushed the child back inside," West Palm Beach police wrote in a report.

While Kelly was sitting at a table in the classroom, another four-year-old student went to the bathroom door to free the child. Kelly then allowed the student to leave the bathroom and escorted her to a cot, according to the report.

Once at the cot, police said Kelly tried to cover her with a blanket. The child tried to grab the blanket, but Kelly held it out of her reach, taunting her, according to the report.

Kelly then picked up the child, returned her to the dark bathroom and closed the door, police said.

Head Start's policy is to keep the bathroom door propped open while any child is inside, according to police.

Officers interviewed the child and photographed bruises on her thighs. When police asked her where the bruises came from she said, "I don't know, they just grew there."

The child later made a pinching motion on her thigh, telling officers "[Ms. Kelly] does this to my leg." She also made a motion with her finger pointing, claiming Kelly would say "don't say a word."

Kelly later told officers she has been a teacher with the Head Start program for about 18 years. Kelly also told investigators she was injured by the child on Jan. 8, 11, 25 and 31. 

"She stated the victim kicked her repeatedly, bit her, scratched her and spit in her face," an officer said in the report.

Kelly filed an injury report with the school on Jan. 8 and 31. The teacher denied injuring the girl or any other children in the school, police said.

Kelly also told investigators she never left the 4-year-old unattended in the bathroom and was she was never inside the bathroom with the door closed.

After reviewing surveillance video over several days and interviewing the child and accused, police charged Kelly with false imprisonment on a child under 13-years-old and child abuse.

Kelly was released from the Palm Beach County Jail Monday night on $6,000 bond.

Print this article Back to Top