Desiree LaBlanc assumed she knew how to find a good nanny for her daughter. And, at one point, she thought she’d found just the person to look after her little one while she was at work. When a child in the nanny’s care spoke of her odd behavior, however, the woman’s husband set up a secret camera. And when he played the video back, no one could have predicted its shocking content.
LaBlanc, from Des Moines, Iowa, worked as a child protective investigator for the Department of Human Services. Because of this, when she needed childcare for her young daughter she knew exactly what to look for. So finding a nanny who ticked all the boxes proved relatively easy.
In fact, LaBlanc was referred to Christina Williamson by a family friend who knew her husband and his family. Putting her training to the test, she then went to Williamson’s home to see if she checked out. And everything LaBlanc saw in Williamson’s setup was impressive.
“Her home was immaculate,” LaBlanc told Crime Watch Daily in 2016. “Everything was neat, there was tubs of toys, easels, ride-on toys. The basement opened up into the back yard with sliding doors so she was able to have the kids go outside. Everything was always very neat and orderly.”
Of course, a clean and tidy house wasn’t the only thing LaBlanc was looking for. But Williamson’s attitude, too, seemed like the perfect fit for the role. Indeed, she seemed to be very alert about the needs of children in her care. And, even better, she appeared to keep lines of communication open with the kids’ parents so that they would always know how their little ones were doing.
“She seemed extremely attentive,” LaBlanc further explained. “She was constantly sending photographs letting us know that everything was okay. And then if ever there was a concern she would equally message right away.” But as it turned out, Williamson only showed what she wanted LaBlanc to see.
While LaBlanc was at work one day, there was an urgent phone call, in fact. As she subsequently recalled, “I was working and got a call from my supervisor that I needed to go and pick up my daughter at the daycare and not to talk to Christina and not to ask any questions. That there was an incident.”
What LaBlanc couldn’t have known, however, was that the day carer was being watched. When an eight-year-old in Williamson’s care mentioned some concerning things about the nanny’s behavior, Williamson’s husband had installed security cameras to investigate. And what the video from the cameras revealed was shocking.
The disturbing video made by Williamson’s now ex-husband shows the nanny being aggressive with the children. She tosses infants around like discarded rags and stuffs cloth into a baby’s mouth to stop her from crying. And, most alarmingly, she casually pushes an infant’s head to the floor with her foot as the baby lies in the middle of the room.
LaBlanc also recalled the dreadful treatment of her own daughter to Crime Watch Daily, saying, “The videos show her sleeping and Christina yanking her up by the arm and flinging her onto the floor. They show her picking her up by her head.” But as the footage showed, the abuse unfortunately didn’t stop there.
LaBlanc added, “She pushes our daughter down so that she’s folded in half and she holds her that way for about 90 seconds. It was just horrifying, it was just awful.” And it wasn’t an isolated incident; nor was it one child. In fact, the list of abuse would grow yet longer.
In particular, Williamson would be rough with infants, shoving them and tossing them around like dolls and pinning them to the floor when they were crying. More than once, too, she left a five-month-old baby home and unattended. When her then-husband played back the video, then, he immediately alerted authorities.
As a result, a thorough investigation into Williamson’s behavior was conducted, with statements taken from parents of the children in her so-called “care.” And with various charges of endangerment and causing bodily injury held against her, Williamson took a plea bargain.
Specifically, she pled guilty to two of the charges held against her – child endangerment and aggravated misdemeanor child endangerment. However, as part of the bargain, she had to stand up in court to describe exactly what she did to the kids in her care.
“I picked up the child by one arm,” Williamson told the court. She continued, “I handled [LaBlanc’s daughter] roughly and [another child] roughly, to the point where one was crying and you could tell that there might have been potential injury.” Then she had to face the parents.
LaBlanc told Williamson in court, “[My daughter] was afraid of you and I didn’t see it. Now I see it and it breaks my heart.” Another child’s mother said, “We were inconsolable with guilt, knowing that we had unwittingly placed our precious baby girl in the hands of a monster on a daily basis.”
When speaking to the parents directly, moreover, Williamson apologized for all of the pain she had caused. She then spoke of mental health problems as a factor in her behavior. Judge Jeffery Farrell gave Williamson a severe admonishment, however.
“I’m a human being too, and I have kids, and watching that film was just sickening, how you treated those babies,” the judge remarked, before sentencing Williamson to five years in prison. Thankfully, all children involved had suffered no lasting effects; the consequences of the abuse would, however, be profound for LaBlanc.
In fact, LaBlanc ended up quitting her job, as the whole episode had shaken her confidence in her own judgment. “[I] didn’t feel long-term I could continue keeping other people’s children safe if I was having such strong feelings about my own inability to keep my own child safe,” Des Moines-based station KCCI reported her as saying in 2015.
If not for the hidden camera and an outspoken eight-year-old, though, parents may never have known of Williamson’s abuse. And LaBlanc in particular had never suspected a thing before the footage came to light. “I never saw anything that I can say was a red flag. I believe that, without those videos, I would have struggled to believe that something happened,” she concluded to Crime Watch Daily.