Father shows support for teacher accused of child abuse

By Valencia

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) - Lystra Zerba and Elizabeth Cain bonded out of jail Friday night after being arrested and charged with crimes stemming from child abuse allegations at a daycare.

Court documents say a teacher's assistant at Summerville Montessori School of the Arts observed Zerba lock upset 4-year-old students in a dark bathroom and force them to sit on the floor. The complaint also said she saw Zerba force feed a child while holding the child's head back until the child swallowed their food.

In separate instances, court documents say children complained of Zerba duct taping their mouths and yelling at them.

Cain, the school's executive director, was charged with failure to report.

However, in a bond court hearing Friday a community of family, friends and fellow parents with children at the school, showed up in support of both.

"Miss Zerba is a 10-year Navy veteran decorated with the Navy achievement medal while she was in the Navy," said Thomas Rode, Zerba's attorney. "She has no prior criminal record. She's been teaching at the Montessori school, like she said, for 7 years."

Similar comments were made about Cain.

"Ms. Cain is 50 years of age. She's lived in Summerville for 17 years," said Dale Savage, Cain's attorney. "She's owned the school or ran the school. That is the subject of these allegations for the past 11 years."

The father of an alleged victim even spoke on Zerba's behalf. His name could not be identified.

"With all the allegations and everything that's going on, it's really hard to take in the fact that this is actually happening. But from my opinion, I don't see Ms. Zerba as a threat or any kind of, or being malicious to that extent of these allegations or these charges," he said.

Lawyers say both women turned themselves in to police.

Zerba is on administrative leave. Cain is free to go back to work at her school.

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