A 13-year old boy has been charged with the assault of a 22-month old girl. The case is raising questions about Florida's inspection procedures.
On Tuesday, the Bradenton Herald reported that the teen was arrested for beating and possibly raping a toddler in a home-based day care facility. The boy was left in charge of Our Kids Day Care in Bradenton, Florida by the owner, 21-year old Heather Lovett who is allegedly dating the teen's father. Lovett, who's business provided day care services for five children, aged 10 months to 4, was also arrested and charged with child neglect.
According to reports, the father of the victim took the little girl to Manatee Memorial Hospital after he discovered her injuries when he picked her up after work. Police reports reveal that the little girl was determined to have been "punched, choked and sexually assaulted."
Upon being questioned, the boy--who had been left in charge while Lovett took something to her boyfriend--admitted to becoming angry when the toddler threw a golf ball and struck him. He admitted to punching the little girl twenty times, but denied any sexual assault.
According to local reports, the boy is being held at a juvenile detention center while Lovett was released on bail. Both cases are pending further investigation.
This incident follows closely on the heels of a molestation complaint filed against Lovett and the Our Kids Day Care in June, when a parent complained to authorities about the older brother of the boy charged with beating the young girl. That case is also still under investigation.
The incidents at the Our Kids Day Care have caused local authorities and concerned citizens to question the process for inspecting and monitoring Florida's daycare facilities. The registration for Our Kids has now been revoked by the state's Department of Children and Family (DCF), but if there had not been a major incident, the DCF would not have been involved.
According to published reports, Florida DCF officials do not inspect or regulate day care facilities that have fewer than ten children. Local governments are expected to address the home-based day care facilities via local ordinances, but Manatee county--where Our Kids is located--has no such ordinance in place. Local childcare advocates are hopeful that a renewed effort to monitor home-based day care facilities will follow this most recent incident.