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Director of Sunshine Child Learning Center in Gwinnett arrested, charged with child cruelty

Vivian Rankins, 67, of Stone Mountain, was caught on camera allegedly abusing a 4-year-old child in her office inside the daycare along W. Main Street on September 8

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — A longtime director of the Sunshine Child Learning Center in Gwinnett County was arrested by Snellville Police and charged with Cruelty to Children 2nd Degree. 

Vivian Rankins, 67, of Stone Mountain, was caught on camera allegedly abusing a 4-year-old child in her office inside the daycare along W. Main Street on September 8. 

Samerramise Gibson, who is the child’s mother, said she was sent a text by another parent who just happened to walk into the daycare on that Friday afternoon. 

“I got a text message, and the message was very urgent," Gibson explained. 

She said she stepped outside while at work and called the parent to see what was going on with he son. 

“She begins to tell me that what she just witnessed inside the office with Mrs. Vivian and my son was horrible,” Gibson said. 

Gibson added, “She saw Mrs. Vivian holding my son and snatching my son and shaking him profusely back and forth.” 

She said when she picked her son up from the daycare later that afternoon, she didn’t speak with anyone at the time, only her son. 

“I asked him, what happened in Mrs. Vivian’s office today and his exact words were she hurt my arm,” Gibson said. 

She said at this point she was still trying to process what the other parent had told her she allegedly witnessed and to try and get the story from her son of what happened inside the daycare. 

Gibson said through the weekend she followed up with the parent who reached out and also a couple other daycare staff members to get a better idea of what happened between Rankins and her child. 

She said by the end of the weekend, “The stories weren’t adding up.”

On Monday, Gibson said she was going to confront Rankins about the interaction, but she wasn’t there when she picked up her son that afternoon. She said in fact, Rankins was not there on Tuesday or on Wednesday. 

She said on Thursday she took time off work and left early to make sure she caught up with her. She said the first thing she told Rankings was, “I need the footage of what happened on Friday.” 

Gibson said the two went back and forth regarding if Rankins had access to the video. 

“I stated to her I’m not leaving this facility until you provide me that footage, I have time today,” Gibson said. 

She said Rankins eventually agreed to show her the video. Gibson pulled out her phone and recorded what she was about to watch. 

Gibson showed 11Alive’s Cody Alcorn the video on Monday afternoon. In the video you can see Gibson’s son and another little girl on the ground behind Rankins in an office. 

Gibson confirmed it was her son in the yellow shirt in the video. 

She described what she saw in the video: “Snatch him up, look at his arm. Her hand is around his neck at one point.” 

Gibson said after watching the video they called Snellville Police. Several hours later, Rankins was led out of the daycare in handcuffs. Gibson recorded the arrest. 

Rankins was released on bond early Friday morning. 

On Monday night, 11Alive stopped by her home in Stone Mountain to get her side of the story, but no one answered the door. 

11Alive reached out to the daycare for a statement on the arrest and alleged abuse inside their facility but have not yet heard back.

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