MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County District Attorney’s office confirmed a man has been charged in connection with a child abuse incident at a daycare in the medical district.

Joe Craig has been indicted by a Shelby County grand jury on aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect. He was arrested Monday and released on a $200,000 bond.

Craig, 31, is an employee at the Academy of Future Leaders on Madison Avenue. He also was a former standout football player at the University of Memphis. There were no previous incidents listed on his record in Shelby County.

Loved ones said the child is two years old, and his injuries were “life threatening and severe.” He has undergone multiple surgeries after an incident there last month.

Joe Craig (SCSO)

In September 2020, Craig was seen on our newscast. The former University of Memphis football standout had a bad car wreck and doctors didn’t know if he would walk again.

He held an event to spread love to his supporters.

“I just wanted to pass the message on that there’s a purpose in everyone’s life and that’s why God saved me,” he said in 2020.

He was later hired at the Academy of Future Leaders. Parents told WREG he was always at the front desk and would help with the children when needed.

The TN Department of Human Services, which regulates daycares, noted Craig was with the child on May 18th.

According to DHS records we uncovered, Craig filled out an incident form that morning stating the child was scratched on his neck while playing.

The records also state Craig later messaged the parents the child was “sleepy.” Two of messages sent by the daycare were deleted.

At 12:30 p.m., staff told DHS the “child vomited” and was “taken to the restroom and cleaned up by [Craig]” and then put down for a nap.

An hour later, Craig told DHS the child’s “hands were moving oddly and legs were locked straight.”

He called the father at 1:48 p.m., and staff called 911 at 1:55 p.m. 

After the incident, DHS forbid Craig on the premises when children are present. DHS stated Tuesday that it’s still investigating, and the daycare is still licensed.

Meanwhile, the child’s loved ones are asking for support. They sai telling us the child has had multiple surgeries and will still have to have more.

Last year, the daycare entered a partnership with UT Health Science Center to offer childcare services to faculty, staff, and students.

On June 9, UT suddenly terminated the contract but didn’t say why.

In a statement released Tuesday, UT said it’s aware of the charges, but since it doesn’t manage the vendor or its employees, they are not in a position to comment.

WREG reached out to the daycare multiple times, but has not heard back.

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