The mother of a child who said he was pummeled by a fellow classmate at a St. Louis day care center is suing the facility.
Disturbing video captured a December 2016 brawl at Adventure Learning Center, in which one toddler can be seen punching another as their teachers watch. One teacher can even be seen jumping with apparent enthusiasm. The video was only recently released.
Nicole Merseal is now suing the day care, frustrated that authorities have done little, she said. Merseal said her then-4-year-old son was encouraged to take part in what's being dubbed a "fight club" in court documents. In the video, her son can be seen sitting in the back, crying, as he watches the other two toddlers brawl. He was not involved in the fight captured on video.
"My son was very afraid," Merseal told ABC News. "He didn't understand why his best friends beat him up."
Merseal's older children were also present. After noticing the teachers weren't doing anything to break up a fight, one of them recorded video of the incident, fearing for his little brother, and sent it to Merseal, she said.
"When I got the video, I was just in complete shock. I immediately left work," she said. "I also called the day care immediately and told them to go stop the fighting."
Merseal also said she alerted police to what was happening and demanded they come to the center.
According to documents released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, one of the teachers, Mickala Guliford, told the center's director, Jennifer Scott, that the children "were bored."
"We ran out of things to do," Guliford allegedly said, according to the documents.
The incident captured on video was allegedly not the first time it had happened. In documents, Guliford allegedly admitted to having the children fight repeatedly as a "stress release exercise."
“It did not last more than three or four minutes. ... No children got hurt but it was still a bad judgment call on my part,” Guliford said.
Both Guliford and the other teacher, Tena Dailey, were fired, but the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office ultimately declined to file criminal charges. The day care center remains open.
Merseal is seeking $25,000 in damages. She said her son still bears the emotional scars from the incident.
"It took a long time for him to be comfortable in his new day care and to understand that they won't make him fight," she said.
The day care center has not commented on the lawsuit.
The city's Department of Health and Senior Services conducted an investigation upon learning of the incident, according to a statement released to ABC News.
"Upon learning of the incident, the facility director fired the two staff, reported the incident to the proper authorities, and wrote an incident report to document the information," the statement reads. "The facility also informed parents about the incident and the actions taken.
"The Section for Child Care Regulation’s report concluded that licensing rules were violated and requested that the facility take additional steps to ensure staff were trained and knowledgeable about age-appropriate activities for children. The facility completed the corrective measures in April 2017."