On Wednesday, Magisterial District Judge Martin Goch of West Goshen ordered the cases of Victoria Aronson and Tiffany Janes Nichols held over for trial after separate preliminary hearings on charges of child endangerment and failure to report in connection with accounts of child abuse at the school.
Nichols, the former executive director of the school — which serves young children in their development stage up to 8 years old — in Westtown is charged with failing to properly report accounts of child abuse allegedly committed by Aronson, a teacher at the school, involving three young children, all younger than 2 years old.
Nichols left her position at the school in early November in a move described by officials there as a “change in leadership,” while Aronson was fired days after the allegations came to light. Nichols is charged with felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and failure to report or refer, while Aronson is charged with aggravated assault of a child less than 6 and harassment stemming from multiple instances of alleged physical abuse of three children, ages 14, 15 and 16 months.
Nichols, 39, of Kennett Square was accompanied at the hearing by defense attorney, Joseph Lesniak of Media, a former Delaware County prosecutor. Aronson is represented by attorney Kevin M. O’Neill of Media. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Zachary Yurich of the D.A.’s Child Abuse Unit.
Both women remain free on bail pending trial.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Detective Michael Meiswich of the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department (WEGO), the charges concerning Nichols involve actions she took or did not take following the reports of the abuse on the three toddlers allegedly committed by Aronson in the “First Step” age class at the school, which was opened in early 2021.
The complaint alleges that Nichols was told of the incidents by three separate witnesses to the events, yet failed to report the matter to ChildLine, the reporting agency for child abuse complaints in the state Department of Human Services, in a timely fashion.
It says that Aronson was allowed to remain employed by the school for a period of time despite the accusations of abuse, and continued to work in classrooms at the school. Aronson was arrested by WEGO in late October after police received a report of abuse from the Chester County Detectives Office, which had been forwarded a report by ChildLine.
“This case clearly demonstrates the failure of Nichols to report, stop, and allow a pattern of child abuse by one of her teachers to continue at her school,” Meiswich said in his complaint. “Nichols’ failure to act allowed physical abuse to continue with children who are too young to verbally describe their pain and suffering caused by the actions of one of her teachers at the school. (It also) prevented parents from obtaining medical attention and having their children medically evaluated for current and potential injuries.”
According to Meiswich’s complaint, the alleged abuse of the three children — identified as victim E, age 15 months; victim S, age 16 months; and victim J, age 14 months — took place on Sept. 29 and 30 at the school. One of the children reportedly suffered a severe bruise on their back and a scratch near their eye.
In one instance, victim “S” was on the floor in the school’s First Step room, which is for children between the ages of 12 months to 18 months, when they began crying. The witness said they saw Aronson pick “S” up and slam them onto a changing table, saying, “You need to stop crying” in an angry voice. She was holding the child down on the table so forcefully that her hand “was turning purple,” the complaint states.
Immediately after that, the witness said she saw Aronson use the same actions and force on victim “E,” slamming them on the ground next to “S.” When they both started crying, she allegedly said, “You two can (expletive) scream at each other. I’m tired of hearing it.”
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.