Universal Preschool, formerly known as Sunnyside Infant and Preschool Center, in Livermore
Two sisters facing charges that they endangered infants' lives by binding them too tightly in swaddling blankets have pleaded not guilty in Alameda County Superior Court.
Nazila and Lida Sharaf entered their pleas Monday and then were released from custody after posting $340,000 bail each. They are each charged with three counts of felony child abuse and neglect and four counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect.
They were arrested last week at their homes Wednesday in Dublin and Mountain House after being accused of wrapping infants in swaddling clothes -- a tactic used to lull newborns to sleep, the news source reported -- so tightly that the babies had "trouble breathing."
The sisters say their "swaddling methods" are sound. Doctors found no signs of injuries, but evidence enough to charge them with three counts of felony child abuse and four counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect exist, according to prosecutors.
At Universal Preschool LLC at 1040 Florence Road in Livermore, the sisters reportedly threw blankets over infants' faces and used "heavy-duty knots" to swaddle the infants, the news source reported. They're in jail at Santa Rita Jail on $340,000 bail.
Turns out that Lida Sharaf lost a license to operate a preschool in 2010 on a similar swaddling offense, investigators said.
The school, of which Nazila Sharaf was the owner, is now closed, following a surprise March 12 investigation that revealed improper swaddling. Parents of 19 infants spoke with police during an investigation.
Meanwhile, family members who showed up outside a courtroom last week said the sisters are both mothers-to-be themselves. Lida Sharaf has a 22-month old son and is due in July for a second child, while Nazila Sharaf has a nine-year old son and is 4 1/2 months pregnant.
"Both women let their thick hair fall in front of their faces to avoid being seen in court and were wearing large, red jumpsuits that concealed their pregnant bellies," the Oakland Tribune reported.