Pittsfield babysitter charged with assault in video beating
Kaylena Sayers, 20, was arrested Thursday — a day after the video began to circulate on social media. She faces a charge of assault and battery on a child under 14, without bodily injury.
While the misdemeanor charge would not typically be cause for arrest, police said, the alleged assault constituted a violation of Sayers' probation.
A medical exam found the child did not appear to have suffered any physical harm from the incident, according to police, so a felony charge was not warranted.
The video, shared to Facebook by Tony Paulyk, the child's father, had over 500 shares and 25,000 views as of Friday morning. Paulyk told The Eagle he posted the video so that Pittsfield parents would know what happened.
"I don't want anyone else to have her around their children," he said.
The video shows the toddler in a highchair with a woman sitting next to him, eating. She reaches over, persistently trying to get him to eat. "Put it in your mouth," she says, and he turns away, beginning to fuss.
The woman then stands up, puts her plate down on a nearby table with her right hand and slaps the child's face with her left hand.
He screams, and she slaps him several more times across the other cheek. When he continues to scream, she shakes the highchair, yells something inaudible and puts her forehead against his.
Sayers is on probation after pleading guilty in March to a charge of assault and battery on a family or household member from an incident in October 2017.
That case was continued without a finding for six months.
She told her probation officer, Michael Duma, she thought the child was choking and at one point yelled, "What's the matter with you?"
But Duma said, based on the video, it didn't appear Sayers was attempting to remove food from the child's mouth nor clear his airway. In fact, he said, Sayers can be seen in the video trying to feed the child more food.
Paulyk said this week has been "a nightmare" for him and his wife, who'd considered Sayers a friend. He said he was shocked to see her treat his young children that way.
"I'm absolutely devastated by this," he said.
Sayers had only babysat his 3-year-old daughter and 19-month-old son a handful of times, and he said he and his wife hadn't noticed anything wrong. Early Tuesday evening they'd been trying to reach Sayers for an hour.
Because she wasn't responding, Paulyk decided to check the live feed for the camera he'd installed to safeguard the family against burglaries at their Robbins Avenue residence.
He said he turned on the feed and saw her looming over the highchair. He said he promptly called the police.
"I just had a weird instinct. We hadn't heard from her," he said. "Something just didn't feel right."
Attorney Dean Manuel, representing Sayers, noted the lack of any injuries consistent with the allegations and that she has no prior felony convictions on her record.
Judge Robert Santaniello ordered Sayers detained pending a full hearing on the probation violation matter.
A show-cause hearing on the assault and battery allegations is scheduled for Aug. 21. A conference on the probation matter is scheduled for the same day.
Eagle staff writer Bob Dunn contributed to this report.
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.
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