2011 was quite a year for nannies in the news; arrests, lawsuits, sensational memoirs and shocking allegations with nannies at the center of the fray made headlines throughout the year. Here are ten of the biggest nanny-related news stories of 2011, in no particular order.
- Shweyga Mullah – The son of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Hannibal, and his former-model wife Aline Skaf were accused of pouring boiling water over their nanny’s head in 2011. Shweyga Mullah granted CNN an interview while her wounds and scars were still livid, sparking outrage around the globe. Gadhafi and Skaf were also once charged with beating servants in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The California “Babysitter Bill” – The hotly-contested A.B. 899, also known as the “Babysitter Bill,” was the subject of much debate in 2011. The domestic workers rights bill required employers to provide all domestic employees, including nannies, with mandatory breaks, overtime pay and minimum wage. Parents groups blasted the bill as unreasonable and unrealistic, and the bill was shelved.
- The Real Zenaida Gonzalez – The tragic story of toddler Caylee Anthony and the mother who stood trial for her murder, Casey Anthony, gripped the nation for the better part of three years as the case unfolded. Anthony originally claimed that a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez had abducted her child. In 2011, the real Zenaida Gonzalez stepped forward and filed a lawsuit against Casey Anthony, citing defamation of character.
- Kelli Jacobsen – Parents and nannies around the country were heartbroken to hear that a one-year-old Washington boy died from a traumatic head injury, and that his nanny was being charged with manslaughter. The boy’s nanny, Kelli Jacobsen, turned herself in and plead innocent during a pre-trial hearing; as 2011 drew to a close, Jacobsen was awaiting trial and forensic pathologists released findings that little Ryder Morrison suffered multiple bruises, a neck injury and severe inter-cranial bleeding.
- Outrage Over Daycare Owner Becoming Lifetime Network’s New SuperNanny – When the Lifetime Network launched America’s SuperNanny in 2011, they chose a daycare owner and a mother as the new host. Nannies across the country were outraged, claiming that Deborah Tillman’s experience as a daycare owner and mother did not qualify her for the title of America’s SuperNanny. Social networking sites were filled with nannies vocally protesting the show, and publicly refusing to tune in.
- Alexis Barry – Early in 2011, actor Robert DeNiro and his wife, Grace Hightower, settled a lawsuit filed by their former nanny claiming that she was owed for more than 750 hours of unpaid overtime. The Manhattan Supreme Court awarded Alexis Barry $30,000 and stipulated that both parties keep the terms of the settlement under wraps.
- Molly Katchpole Triumphs Over Bank of America – When Bank of America announced that they would begin charging account holders a $5 monthly fee for debit card use, part-time nanny and plucky new college graduate Molly Katchpole started an online petition to protest the policy. After more than 300,000 people added their names to the petition, the second-largest bank in the country opted to rethink their position, and chose not to institute the fee after all.
- Pam Behan Writes a Juicy Tell-All Novel About Life With the Kardashians and Jenners – Despite their collective reputation as limelight-mongers and attention-seekers, the Kardashian-Jenner clan was shocked to learn that former nanny Pam Behan was shopping a tell-all book, revealing that the kids were “spoiled and disrespectful” and that Bruce Jenner’s son Brandon was particularly difficult.
- Anneliese Brucato Caught on Film Drugging an Infant – Long Island, New York nanny Anneliese Brucato presented glowing references and a spotless resume when she accepted a post caring for a four-month-old girl. The child’s mother was shocked to discover, through use of a nanny cam, that Brucato was drugging her infant with diphenhydramine despite clear warnings on the packaging and label that it should never be used in children under four years of age. The 48-year-old nanny was charged with assault.
- Kathryn Stockett Sued By Her Brother’s Nanny – Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help graced the bestseller lists and was adapted into a film starring Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard, but the author came under fire from her brother’s nanny who claimed she’d used her likeness without permission. Ablene Cooper asserted that one of the primary characters, Aibileen Clark, was an appropriation of her image; in 2011, a judge dismissed the case, claiming that the statute of limitations had expired before Ms. Cooper filed her suit.
As the internet and smartphones make it easier to access the news with every passing day, the way that we access headlines might be changing. One thing, however, is certain: as long as there are nannies and news outlets, the two will continue to meet.