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Missoula police investigate 2nd alleged sexual assault at day care

Missoula police investigate 2nd alleged sexual assault at day care

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The Missoula Police Department is investigating a second reported sexual assault at a Missoula drop-in day care center.

The alleged assault by a 5-year-old boy on a 5-year-old girl occurred about a month ago but was reported to police over the weekend, Detective Sgt. Bob Bouchee said Monday.

Last week, a parent told police that a 10-year-old boy allegedly assaulted her 5-year-old son Wednesday evening at a drop-in day care center in the 1500 block of South Avenue West. The only day care center in that block is Busy Hands Fun Center. That child told a staff member what allegedly happened, and staff contacted the boy’s mother, police said.

Busy Hands’ director, who asked that her name not be used, said Monday that staffers from Child and Family Services will visit the center Wednesday. Child and Family Services is a division of the state Department of Health and Human Services, which registers, licenses and inspects day care centers. However, drop-in centers like Busy Hands are not covered by DPHHS regulations.

The Busy Hands director said Child and Family Services contacted her after one of the parents involved in the alleged incident with the 10-year-old boy complained to the agency.

She said she welcomed the CFS staffers’ visit and any advice they might give. “We have a safe facility, and I want to make sure it’s as safe as it can possibly be,” she said.

She said video cameras were installed over the weekend at Busy Hands, to help employees better observe the children. Busy Hands takes infants through 12-year-olds on an hourly basis. At least two employees are on the premises at all times, she said. Although the building has a maximum capacity of 90 people, it averages around 20 to 25 children at a time, she said. “We’re always circulating” among the children, she said.

Busy Hands has also altered the movie room where the alleged incident between the 10-year-old and 5-year-old took place, she said. The light switch has been covered, so kids can’t turn off the lights there, and the room’s beanbag chairs have been removed.

She said she also planned to ask DPHHS for pamphlets about “good touch/bad touch” that could be distributed to parents to help them talk about the difficult subject with their children.

“We see a vast variety of kids because this is a drop-in center. We don’t know their backgrounds, what they’ve been taught,” she said.

Bouchee said both alleged incidents remain under investigation by police, and no charges have been filed.

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, or @CopsAndCourts.

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