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Aug 31, 2015 10:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Two Workers At Day Care Center Charged Friday With Child Endangerment

Katleen Culver, left, and Sarah Dawber
Sep 2, 2015 12:52 PM

Two workers at a day care center in Southampton were arrested on Friday and accused of verbally, physically and emotionally abusing infants in their care.

Sarah Dawber, 23, of Patchogue and Kathleen Culver, 33, of Southampton were arrested at the Side By Side Child Care Center on North Sea Road at about 1:30 p.m., and both charged with endangering the welfare of children. The allegations were made in detailed accounts to police by two employees of the facility.

Both Ms. Dawber and Ms. Culver worked in the infant room, where police said they were responsible for children from 4 to 18 months old.

The child endangerment charges are only misdemeanors because no serious injuries were reported. Southampton Town Police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa said one 18-month-old child cared for at Side By Side vomited from being force fed, but that no injuries were reported. “An injury would definitely change the full dynamic,” she added.

Both Ms. Dawber and Ms. Culver are set to be arraigned at Southampton Town Justice Court on September 16.

Town Police said they conducted an on-site investigation at Side By Side on Friday that lasted for more than five hours. The State Office of Children and Family Services assisted in the investigation, as well as Child Protective Services.

“We worked really great together,” Det. Sgt. Costa said. “We are confident that we took the threat out at this initial time, but at the culmination of our investigation we want to make sure that we did the most complete, thorough job possible.”

Police said the owners of the day care center, whom they would not name, cooperated in the investigation. Side By Side is owned by Dr. Stephen Sicilian, Kimberly Bobrowsky and Kelly Quartuccio, The Press has previously reported.

According to court documents, the allegations were made earlier last week by two female employees at the day care: Lori Martin, 47, of Flanders, who is employed as a “floater,” and Kennedy Williams, 20, of Westhampton, a former teacher’s assistant.

Ms. Williams, who began working at the day care in May, said she saw both Ms. Culver and Ms. Dawber verbally, physically and emotionally abuse children in their care on numerous occasions, with the most recent incident occurring August 25, the day she went to police after quitting her job.

In her statement, Ms. Williams said that on August 25 during lunchtime, she saw Ms. Dawber become agitated with a child who would not eat a roll. She said Ms. Dawber used her left hand to force the child’s head back against the headrest of a high chair as she forced pieces of the roll into the child’s mouth, yelling at the same time.

“The child then spit out the food. It was almost vomit. It was wet and appeared to have mucus in it,” Ms. Williams told authorities.

Ms. Williams added that she attempted to talk to Ms. Bobrowsky, who is described as “Kim B.” in the accusatory documents, but did not hear back from her. Ms. Williams quit her job that same day, contacted the mother of the child whom Ms. Dawber had been trying to feed, and then contacted police.

In her handwritten statement to police, Ms. Dawber said she was trained by Ms. Culver when she began working at the day care, and described their positions as that of teacher and head teacher, respectively. She said that Ms. Culver instructed her to “push [a child’s] head and hold it, then put the food in their mouth.” She admitted that she was having a hard time feeding a child at lunch on August 25, and used that method to get the child to eat.

Ms. Dawber added that the child did cry, and said that when Ms. Culver did it, other children cried too. “Kathleen would also kick the leg of the highchair the kid was sitting in and would scream at them to eat. This would also make them cry,” she wrote. “I assumed doing these things was acceptable. Not once did any bosses come to me and say it was not. I am really sorry these things happened.”

Ms. Martin, who has worked at Side By Side since March 2014, told police in a handwritten statement that, in December 2014, she witnessed Ms. Culver become so frustrated with a child who would not eat that she “pulled him out of his high chair really hard … walked over and slammed him on the ground, hitting his head. He was screaming and crying. She said, ‘That’s what you get for not eating.’”

She added that at other times she witnessed Ms. Dawber, who has worked at the day care center since September 2014, screaming at children and shoving food in their mouths.

Ms. Martin told police that she approached Ms. Bobrowsky several times about her concerns with Ms. Dawber and Ms. Culver, but “nothing was ever done.” She said that another employee, Carol, a receptionist, had suggested that Ms. Bobrowsky call Child Protective Services. “Kim said, ‘What are you going to report? We will deny everything,’” Ms. Martin wrote.

Calls to Side By Side owners were not returned.

In a statement Monday, Colin Astarita, the attorney for Ms. Dawber, said that the allegations are “baseless and without merit,” adding that, “My office has received information that present and past employers completely support Sarah and her absolute denial of these charges.” He also challenged the credibility of at least one of the accusers.

Detectives are asking any parents or guardians of children who have attended the day care to contact them if they have information that may aid in the continuing investigation at (631) 702-2230.

While others have not come forward with complaints, many have come forward in support of the two women. Those who personally know Ms. Culver and Ms. Dawber have taken to social media to defend them, calling the claims nothing but workplace gossip that got out of hand.

On Tuesday morning, parents were at the day care center dropping off their children, showing that they still trusted the services the facility offered.

Denise Roland, an East Quogue resident who grew up with Ms. Culver in Southampton and regularly uses Ms. Dawber as a babysitter, said she doesn’t believe there is enough factual evidence to support the allegations. Ms. Roland sent her now-2-year-old son to Side By Side last year, where he was cared for in the infant room by the two women. In fact, Ms. Roland said she removed her son from the day care only when he graduated from the infant room at the age of 18 months, because she preferred to have Ms. Culver and Ms. Dawber care for him over any other employee there.

“I would perceive them as being very kind, nurturing and patient individuals. I found them to be really exceptional,” Ms. Roland said Tuesday. “This woman Kathleen [Culver] has been in that building for 13 years, and my heart breaks for her, because this is her livelihood. This is her community. She’s getting run over—based on what? How is she ever going to move forward past this?”

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Aug 31, 15 10:19 PM
Trash
By Scls26 (1), East quogue on Sep 1, 15 1:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Innocent until proven guilty.
By metsfan2 (159), southampton on Sep 1, 15 2:14 PM
There is no possible way Kathleen could or would EVER hurt a child. These are completely false charges!! I would trust her with my children to this day.
By MK68 (1), Sag Harbor on Sep 1, 15 2:35 PM
I really believe we need to wait until the full and true story comes out here. I agree--innocent until proven guilty.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Sep 1, 15 3:00 PM
3 members liked this comment
4 to 18 month old todlers can not tell their side of the story
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Sep 1, 15 3:05 PM
Their words can not tell their story, but their appearance, condition and behavior frequently does.
By metsfan2 (159), southampton on Sep 1, 15 3:11 PM
either way we live in a disgusting world

if it true it is horrible for the victims involved

if it isn't true it is horrible that in this day and age, innocent people (one a lifelong sh resident) can get arrested and slandered for crimes they did not commit
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Sep 1, 15 3:44 PM
3 members liked this comment
kinda scary mug shots btw
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Sep 1, 15 4:14 PM
they look like they were kicked out of the amish community for doing wrong
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Sep 1, 15 4:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By PJC (5), Westhampton on Sep 1, 15 4:28 PM
I sure would not want to be either of these girls:

If they're innocent, they might as well move out of the area. All it takes is one exaggeration.

If either of them are guilty, well, it goes without saying that she/they will pay dearly. But, I can't help thinking if my generation's parents where judged by the same criteria that most of them would be in jail.
By Nukiepoo (123), Southampton on Sep 1, 15 3:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
Sorry force feeding and slamming children to the floor were never the norm.
By Baymen87 (133), Lugoff, SC on Sep 1, 15 6:04 PM
These are allegations From a coworker. We don't yet know the details and the evidence. You never know: this may be a case of a disgruntled coworker.
By Nukiepoo (123), Southampton on Sep 1, 15 8:10 PM
2 members liked this comment
Reading this just makes you want to get home early from work to hug your kids a few more times.
By watermill_mike (35), Sag Harbor on Sep 1, 15 5:25 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Sep 1, 15 5:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Uh... A single Mom who has no choice but to work.
By Nukiepoo (123), Southampton on Sep 1, 15 8:25 PM
Hope it's not true
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Sep 1, 15 5:56 PM
I'd like to know what other evidence the Police have here. Based on the reporting here and in another paper the only evidence they seem to have is this dismissed coworker. In the other account the SH police's "Ralph said authorities did not witness any of the alleged abuse during their visit." Do they video of some kind?

I hope its not true for the children's sake. But if its not true I hope it does not come back to the SH taxpayers due to a lawsuit.

By the way, where or where ...more
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Sep 1, 15 7:51 PM
Innocent until proven. I don't know Ms Dawber, but I do know Kathleen. She is a wonderful mother and I am very skeptical about these accusations.
By fishcove (39), southampton on Sep 1, 15 8:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
My son was in this class. I interacted with Sarah on a daily basis and have a hard time believing any of this. She truly came across as caring and good natured.

What really burns me is that I have called the Southampton Police Department multiple times since last night and never got a call back. It felt like they wanted nothing to do with me unless I had something incriminating to say about the accused... No seeking to understand the big picture. I feel a little let down by the system ...more
By nickpaulo (1), Hampton Bays on Sep 1, 15 10:30 PM
Sounds like another SHTPD clusterf**k. They say they want to do a thorough investigation but make an arrest based on the word of one disgruntled ex-employee then plaster the accuseds' faces on the news. Looks like Costa and Ralph are going to cost the Town a few million. Not to mention their own lawsuits they have against the Town.
By HB90 (163), southampton on Sep 1, 15 11:32 PM
Kathleen Culver cared for my daughter at Side By Side in 2011/12. I find these allegations extremely unlikely and would in fact trust her with the care of my children to this day.

I found her to be a kind, detail-oriented, and loving person.

Please remember that Ms. Culver is to be presumed innocent until she is proven guilty beyond a shadow of doubt.
By Agawam Yacht Club (69), Southampton on Sep 2, 15 10:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Sep 2, 15 12:04 PM
all the people who are "innocent until proven guilty"
wake up
you are dense
the article CLEARLY states that the younger witch admitted in writing to the abuse allegations by culver and herself


kudos to the 20 year old former employee, although the press maybe didn't need to mention her name, as that will discourage other whistleblowers


also, all the abuse seems to be centered over eating
i have two kids
they eat when they are hunrgy
no big deal
if ...more
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Sep 2, 15 1:11 PM
You are kidding with those last two lines right?
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Sep 2, 15 1:41 PM
Very sad situation. My child was in their care and I never saw any indication of a problem. Ever. It's very difficult to believe.
By KDRAKR1314 (3), East Quogue on Sep 3, 15 6:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
Both of my children were in Kathleen's care at Side by Side for over a year (2009 - 2010 and 2011 - 2013). I trusted her and her colleagues with my kids unconditionally. In addition to being shocked and dis-believing of these allegations, I am also disappointed by the odd reaction/behavior of the owners of Side by Side. Why be quiet? Kathleen IS THE REASON why so many of us local families have brought our infants to Side by Side in the first place.... and were so comforted by her and the other ...more
By eastend56 (2), Southampton on Sep 3, 15 8:46 PM
I couldn't agree more with eastend56. Kathleen is the reason I brought all of my children to that daycare. Even after they graduated from the baby room they would want to stay with her. Let's listen to the children and common sense. Children wouldn't adore her the way they do if the claims this article are making we're true. The fact is these claims are just that. They are not fact. Kathleen continues to care for my children and these claims will not change the fact that I completely trust her with ...more
By Northsea35 (1), Southampton on Sep 3, 15 9:57 PM
4 members liked this comment
One would think such a facility would have video surveillance. It would help substantiate these accusations or exonerate these women if the claims are false. One would like it would be required by the agencies that regulate such businesses.
By Nukiepoo (123), Southampton on Sep 4, 15 10:18 AM
("like" should read "think")
By Nukiepoo (123), Southampton on Sep 4, 15 10:19 AM
Sarah is a wonderful human being and she has been caring for my
Son (who CAN and DOES speak up, about everything) for over a year. She is caring, consistent and has been a wonderful asset to my family. I do not believe one ounce of truth exists to this story, and I can only hope the TRUTH makes as much of a splash as the fabricated, poorly reported story, so that these young women can repair the damage done to their image and future. This is the Hamptons for ya; shoot first then ask questions.
By KKAT (2), Southampton on Sep 4, 15 4:59 PM
**that was not a direct dig at this story or An insult to Ms. Melillo. My
Meaning was that the story has been inconsistent over
All of the news formats, and I do not blame the reporters but rather where they get their information.
By KKAT (2), Southampton on Sep 4, 15 5:07 PM
Actually KKAT, you should be blaming the reporters. It's their job to seek out the true facts and report them. These days, unfortunately, journalism has often been reduced to the regurgitation of press releases without regard for pursuit of the story.
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on Sep 8, 15 7:44 PM
Do you people really think the police go in and arrest 2 people on one person's accusations?? The police I am sure have plenty of evidence that no one is aware of!! I currently work in a daycare facility in Suffolk county and the parents drop off for a few minutes and pick up for a few. You have no idea what is going on the rest of the time!!! I wonder if a video should surface showing abuse will these parents still defend these 2?? No one knows what goes on in the daycare room except the teachers! ...more
By lovemylife (9), Deer Park on Sep 4, 15 8:42 PM
I do not recognize any of the names in the list of owners. Me thinks they might be newcomers -- or could they be living out of the area? And why were their thoughts or exclamations not quoted? Very poor reporting and printing in what used to be a decent paper.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Sep 7, 15 8:50 PM
The people who are supporting Sarah and Kathleen saying how kind and wonderful they are, please read the part how Sarah ADMITTED to doing those things AND Kathleen taught it to her! Also, look at the website for nys office of children's service and look at the long list of violations this daycare has. I guess the violations are made up as well?? Look closely at the violation that neither Sarah nor Kathleen had proper credentials to even be teachers for infants. Very sad for these babies. Bravo to ...more
By lovemylife (9), Deer Park on Sep 21, 15 9:15 PM
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