New details about Atwater daycare owner accused of abusive practices

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) —

New details released as attorneys for Maria Mortero, the owner of the Coco’s Daycare, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of injury to a child in court.

The case report shows the victim’s mother called police after her son claimed Mortero yelled at him and pinched him in the neck after vomiting.

“We’re handling it day by day,” said the victim’s mother.

Detectives stating in a report that they spoke to the child who replied “yes” after he was asked if he felt pain after being pinched. However, it also stated investigators did not see any redness or bruising on his neck.

The document said detectives spoke to Mortero’s assistant called Sally who claimed she saw the incident happen as she walked into the hallway. She told investigators that Mortero “treats the cash paying parent’s children better than children whose parents are subsidized.”

The report also documents a recorded conversation between Sally and Mortero where Sally asks her why she put her hands on the child. Mortero responded after asked twice that “sometimes we make mistakes.”

However, when investigators spoke to Mortero she stated that the child vomited and she pulled his shirt and apron over his head. She continued to say that she folded the front of the shirt to control the mess, and when she pulled the shirt off- it may have “hurt his neck”.

Mortero said the mother of the boy never told her about her son’s digestion problem.

“So many people we know from being there so long– couldn’t believe these allegations. We don’t believe them,” said Todd White, had child in Coco’s Daycare.

White said his daughter Hannah has been going to Coco’s Daycare since she was weeks old, and even considers her family. He said he and several other parents said Coco has been nothing but a loving and caring caretaker and teacher to their kids, and calls the allegations false.

“Many people who use Coco’s Daycare are mandated reporters if they see an issue they have to report it based on their jobs and nobody had any issues,” said White.

One of Coco’s previous assistants also spoke to investigators and stated that coco “treated all the children right” and that she never saw Coco force feed any children.

The victim’s mother said she wants justice, but other parents said the truth will come out.

A preliminary hearing for Mortero is set for December 5th.

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