Local News

Child-Abuse Charges Filed in 'Nanny Cam' Case

Posted March 12, 2008 9:02 a.m. EDT
Updated March 12, 2008 6:22 p.m. EDT

— 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.