Former Cranford daycare workers sentenced for organizing “fight club” for kids

Two former employees of a Cranford daycare center have been sentenced for instigating and encouraging fights among children at the facility last year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

Erica Kenny, 23, and Chanese White, 29, were sentenced to three years of probation apiece and both permanently barred from teaching or working with children ever again under terms set down by state Superior Court Judge Frederic R. McDaniel. The two defendants also were ordered not to have any contact with their young victims, and they agreed to pay restitution in an amount to be determined.

An investigation spearheaded by Detective Joanne Son with the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit revealed that Kenny and White instigated fights among children ages 4-7 at the Lightbridge Academy on South Avenue East in Cranford last summer, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Sheets, who prosecuted the case. The pair allegedly told the children that it was an activity known as “fight club,” even quoting from the book and movie of the same name in encouraging them to shove each other to the ground and strike each other with their fists and feet.

“What you created here, whether knowingly or unknowingly, was a recipe for disaster,” Judge McDaniel told one of the defendants during Friday’s sentencing.

The children involved in the fights are not believed to have suffered any serious injuries. Kenny and White were charged via summons in August 2015, and they pleaded guilty to charges of fourth-degree child abuse in August 2016.