CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. – On November 16th, 2020, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was contacted in reference to allegations of child abuse at a local daycare that provides services for children with special needs. The complainant advised responding deputies that she had received an incident report detailing allegations of an employee, 43-year-old Amber Summers of Inverness, being physically aggressive towards an autistic and non-verbal juvenile. According to facility staff, surveillance footage was reviewed and showed Summers using unnecessary force towards the patient while moving him around the facility. Summers was immediately terminated by the daycare as a result of her actions caught on the video, prior to law enforcement’s arrival.
Detective Jonathan Richey with CCSO’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) responded to the daycare and began an investigation into this incident. Surveillance video obtained from the facility depicts Summers using extreme force, grabbing the victim by the arms, and at times using her leg to move the victim around the play area. During the incident, Summers grabbed the victim by the back of the neck while forcing him to the floor and she can be seen pushing the victim’s head into a wall as she attempts to restrain him behind a table. Anytime other facility staff are visible in the footage, Summers quickly deescalates her behavior towards the victim. A witness told Detective Richey that on the date of this incident she observed Summers grab the victim roughly by the arm several times and had to intervene due to Summers being overly aggressive. A second witness told detectives she had observed Summers grab the victim by the neck and force him to the floor.
On November 18th, Detective Richey and Detective Jason Cook made contact with Summers at her residence in reference to this incident. Upon showing Summers the videos from the facility, she agreed with detectives her actions were aggressive and she had been frustrated that day. Summers was placed under arrest for child abuse and turned over to the Citrus County Jail with a bond of $2,000.00 per the bond schedule. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Health (DOH), who oversees the licensing of healthcare workers, are also conducting their own investigations into this incident.
“Summers entered a profession where her sole purpose was to provide care and comfort for patients, and in this case precious children with special needs. Instead, she chose to take out her frustrations on a child that cannot even speak to tell anyone of the abuse,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Again, the detectives with the Special Victims Unit continue to seek justice for the children of Citrus County. Hopefully, the victim’s family has a sense of peace knowing the victim is safe again and that Summers cannot hurt another child.”
It is important for us all to remember, if you see something, say something. Child abuse can be reported by calling the Florida Department of Children and Families at 1-800-962-2873.