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Abusive babysitter caused brain bleed in 7-year-old girl during English language lessons — and blamed it on cartwheels: Police

Leonor Garcia appears inset against an image of the area where she lives in the Miami area.

Leonor Garcia appears inset, in a mugshot, against an image of the area where she lives in the Miami area of Fla. (Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation; Google Maps)

A babysitter in Florida repeatedly abused a young girl over the weekend, told a lie about cartwheels, and now she’s facing a felony charge over the child’s extreme head injuries, authorities say.

Leonor Garcia, 62, stands accused of one count of aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm, according to Miami-Dade County court records reviewed by Law&Crime.

The details of the allegation come by way of a Miami-Dade Police Department report obtained by local ABC affiliate WPLG.

Police say the victim, a 7-year-old girl, had been with Garcia all day long on Saturday at the defendant’s apartment on Southwest 216th Street, near Cutler Bay – a medium-sized town which is located roughly half an hour southwest of Miami proper.

At some point that day, the girl told her babysitter she had a headache, an MDPD officer reportedly wrote. So, Garcia called the girl’s mother to come and pick her up. Once the victim’s mother arrived, the defendant allegedly told the story about the cartwheels, saying the 7-year-old had repeatedly attempted to perform the gymnastics move but kept falling and hitting her head. Garcia herself then made the suggestion to take the girl to the hospital. The girl’s mother agreed.

According to police in the Sunshine State, doctors diagnosed the girl with a severe brain bleed known as a subdural hematoma. The injury required surgery to drain fluid from the child’s brain, police wrote in the report obtained by the TV station. She also had a black eye, bruised shoulders, and swelling on the right side of her face.

More Law&Crime coverage: Babysitter arrested again on child abuse charges after toddler suffers demobilizing brain bleed and other injuries

Eventually, law enforcement was brought in to question the girl about what had happened to her. She said Garcia’s story about gymnastics was a “lie” and alleged that, rather, she had been physically punished for her perceived lack of progress during language lessons.

The babysitter had been teaching the girl – a native Spanish speaker – English on the day in question, the victim told police. And, according to the report, every time the 7-year-old failed to properly translate a word from Spanish into English, Garcia would hit her. This abuse, the child said, was meted out in various ways. Sometimes, the girl alleges in the report, the babysitter would hit her in the head with a remote control, sometimes with a metal spoon, sometimes with a phone.

In sum, according to the report, the girl told police Garcia hit her 13 times on Saturday. And, the girl allegedly said, the babysitter asked her to keep the abuse a secret. Police later interviewed Garcia, who allegedly denied the abuse claims. The report says the babysitter could not explain how the child left her home with such injuries.

The defendant was arrested on Monday, quickly booked into jail, and nearly as quickly was granted and posted $7,500 bond after a hearing the same day of her arrest, court records show.

Garcia is due back in court for an arraignment slated for Aug. 30.

Law&Crime reached out to the MDPD for additional details on this story but no response was immediately forthcoming.

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