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Cranford Day Care Workers Accused Of Getting Kids To Fight Plead Not Guilty

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Two former employees of a New Jersey day care center accused of staging a "fight club" among boys and girls pleaded not guilty Friday.

Erica Kenny, 22, of Cranford, and Chanese White, 28, of Roselle are accused of encouraging children, ages 4 to 6, to fight each other on the playground of the Lightbridge Academy in Cranford last month.

Kenny allegedly took video and shared it with friends on the SnapChat app, prosecutors said. Kenny can be heard referring to the movie "Fight Club" as the kids hit each other, prosecutors said.

"Essentially the day care workers are encouraging it and videotaping it," Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said.

The videos show about a dozen boys and girls shoving each other to the ground and trying to hit each other, according to prosecutors. The charges stem from Aug. 13, but investigators are looking into whether the fights were ongoing.

The SnapChat videos only last 10 seconds and then disappear, but investigators were able to find the video after someone recorded it.

The two women have been fired.

"As parents and caregivers, we are shocked and saddened by this isolated incident and we have assisted the prosecutor's office from the start of its investigation into this matter," Lightbridge Academy said in a statement. "While no children were physically harmed during this incident, we have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who acts in conflict with the core value of Lightbridge Academy – the safety and well-being of children."

Cranford Day Care Workers Accused Of Getting Kids To Fight Plead Not Guilty

Kenny and White are accused of child abuse. Kenny also faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child.

White faces up to 18 months in prison. Kenny could get up to five years.

Those who know the two are stunned by the charges.

"I don't even know what they were thinking...and to do it more than once," said Doug McGowan, whose wife used to work with the women.

One parent said she feels her kids are still safe at the day care.

"I think this was a case of two bad apples," Catherine Strawder told CBS2's Christine Sloan.

Both women are due back in court on Oct. 15. If convicted, they both face a maximum sentence of three to five years in prison.

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