Local News

Child-Abuse Charges Filed in 'Nanny Cam' Case

Posted March 12, 2008

— Stephanie Merrill, the subject of a widely publicized "nanny-cam" video recorded by her employer, faces two misdemeanor counts of child abuse in Cary.

Police and the Wake County District Attorney's office decided to charge Merrill, 26, after viewing a day's worth of video of her with the 7-month-old twins she was caring for at Lindsay Addison's home, police said.

Merrill was charged Wednesday with two counts of "child abuse – putting a child at risk for injury and released without bond pending a May 1 arraignment in Wake County District Court, Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said.

Merrill was “very upset” when officers read the charges against her, police said.

Officers initially reviewed only part of the video and talked with Merrill about her handling of the children, but they did not charge her.

“Unfortunately, and like folks throughout the nation, Cary police only saw bits and pieces of the day’s video in the media for a full week before our requests for a full copy of the evidence were fulfilled," Bazemore said. "Once we had the information we needed, we were able to work effectively with the DA to bring this incident to an appropriate close.”

Police told Addison Wednesday that they had charged Merrill, and Addison said she was satisfied that the case was moving ahead.

“I just didn’t want any other children to be harmed. … That was my big deal in going public with the information,” she said. She added that she has received calls from people alerting her that Merrill was seeking new child-care positions.

She said she thought, “Gosh does this girl not get it?” and passed that information to Cary police. Officers had told Addison that they told Merrill she should find work other than child care.

The video, recorded Feb. 11, came from a hidden "nanny cam" that Addison had installed so she could check in on her sons after she went back to work. She had been home with the twins, born prematurely, for several months before returning to work.

The camera is motion-activated, Addison said, and the recording covered a total of five to seven hours of the day, from the time the family came downstairs to breakfast.

Addison hired Merrill based on an interview and references. After watching Merrill on a Web video link, Addison was upset, went home and fired the nanny. She called Cary police and showed them some of the video.

After police got the entire video later, they went to the district attorney for a decision about whether there were grounds to file charges.

Addison said she was distressed both by how Merrill held the children at times and by her having left them alone for as long as nine minutes on a couch from which Addison feared they could fall off.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • WRAL is joe_dirt Mar 14, 2008

    The mom is guilty too.

  • Emerald Mar 13, 2008

    I'm just glad it was not my child she was supposed to be watching. This is crazy. Why would you handle a child like this. As a parent I am outraged at her behavior.

  • educgrad Mar 13, 2008

    Thanks WRAL for keeping abreast of this. glad she is facing charges so others know what happened and won't hire her.

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 13, 2008

    Wow. When I saw the video, I was out-raged to say the least. How can a person that was hired to care for small infants, do something like this? The parents were keen to something not going well. The camera does not lie.

    I hope that more parents will buy a camera if they have even the smallest hint that something is not right. The lady in the video looks like a thug to me. She received good recommendations from someone. How could this happen?

    I truly think that she should get some jail time. What a loser of a person. I'm glad WRAL made this a long story to be shown to all of us in the viewing area.

  • NCMOMof3 Mar 13, 2008

    Something2Say, I agree with you. Childcare workers do need background checks but background checks don't uncover everything. I am a licensed home provider. Parents should go with the gut feeling no matter what the references and no matter what credentials are on the wall of the home or the center. They should also obtain references from previous families and CURRENT families and should also drop in at the daycare at different times of the day. I encourage that. Yes it disrupts the routine but parents need to know what I am doing with their children all day and need to be comfortable with that. And to the posters that say parents need to stay home, it's not always possible. And some parents are better parents for getting out of the house for a few hours every day and going home to be with their children. Doesn't make them bad parents. Each family needs to do what is best for them. Did the nanny abuse the babies? No. Was she neglectful, YES!!

  • Dr. Dataclerk Mar 13, 2008

    Pray for the babysitter.

  • atozca Mar 13, 2008

    For those of us who were raised in single parent homes and told that divorce was a good option and that we could have safe sex with multiple partners, etc. etc. and for those of us who have raised step children.... well we just simply don't believe the lies anymore. We have lived the truth. While all things are permissible they are not all good.

  • atozca Mar 13, 2008

    "You can't put out a blanket statement that Staying at home is best for every family."

    Yes, you can. Do some quick research and you will find that it is proven that children do best when they are not only raised in a two parent home but a home with a male dad and female mom, with one of the two parents providing the primary care. Furthermore, the number one "action" taken by a family that is shown as the best thing that parents can do for their children is to have family meals together.

  • atozca Mar 13, 2008

    "atozca: you were lucky, what if a family member had been in a severe accident and had to be on life support? Unless you are incredibly rich, you would have been out of money in weeks. Going without health insurance is a huge risk, it works out fine if everyone stays healthy, but 1 accident or cancer diagnosis, and you are in a financial position very few families could pull themselves out of."

    I have learned not live in fear of the what ifs. We decided that my being home was more important than health insurance. God has always provided our needs.

  • wcnc Mar 13, 2008

    "You can't put out a blanket statement that Staying at home is best for every family."

    When it is a 2 parent home, one parent staying home IS best. When people are in the situation where only one parent is in the home, in most cases, it is better for that parent to get a job than to be on public assistance. There is a BIG difference between those 2 situations. What we are talking about here is a 2 parent situation. Regardless of the mom's reasons for choosing to work, it did lead to what this "nanny" did to her lovely babies.....Not the mom's fault, but the effect of her choice. I'm glad there is at least a chance this "nanny" will be punished, or at least her actions are known and she won't get another caregiver job.