An 18-year-old employee of the Little Learner Inc. daycare in Lee's Summit has been accused of sexually abusing a child at the daycare. Additionally, the owner, who is also that man's mother, has been accused of failing to report the abuse.
Joseph Hammerly is charged with two counts of statutory sodomy with a child less than 12 years old. His mother and the owner of the daycare, 47-year-old Emily Hammerly, is charged with one count of child endangerment and one count of failure of a mandated reporter to report child abuse.
According to court records, the victim was left at the daycare on July 11. That day, she reportedly told another daycare employee that Joseph Hammerly brought her to a bathroom and allegedly forced her into a sexual act the day before. She told the teacher that he gave her candy after the assault.
That employee immediately told the manager, who contacted the girl's parents. The parents then contacted Lee's Summit police.
Police interviewed the girl, who said that Joseph Hammerly told her not to tell anyone about what happened and that it was a surprise that only the two of them knew about. A detective reviewed surveillance tapes which showed the two entering the bathroom, according to court records.
Police then spoke with the manager, who told them that she told Emily Hammerly about the alleged abuse. She also told police that the owner instructed her to "redirect (the girl) and tell her we don't talk like that"
According to court documents, Joseph Hammerly returned to work at Little Learner Inc. the next day and stayed for his entire shift while the victim was there.
Detectives interviewed Emily Hammerly and court documents say that she told them she had not instructed her employees to report the incident, opting to go home and speak to her son about the allegations. According to court records, she told police that she made sure he wasn't alone with any children during his shift the next day.
Hammerley owns a second daycare called Little Learner II, where her son Joseph also worked. Parents from this daycare received an email over the weekend, announcing that they would be reopening on Monday.
This case of alleged sexual abuse is not the first issue to occur at the Little Learner daycare locations. In April, state inspectors determined that Emily Hammerly had hired 10 people to work at Little Learner without first receiving the results of criminal background checks. State inspectors have issued numerous violations to both Little Learner locations throughout the years.
Attorney contributor Reed Martens represents sex abuse victims and their families in civil lawsuits. Reed has offered to share some general information regarding the legal options for victims of daycare sexual abuse:
Daycare owners must prioritize the safety of the children under their watch above all else. In fact, they are legally required to do so. Sadly, sexual predators are often found in positions that involve working with children. Daycares have a crucial responsibility to make sure these predators are kept away from the kids they are responsible for looking after during the day.
When a child comes forward concerning sexual abuse by a daycare employee, it's important to determine if the daycare owner failed in their legal duty to protect the children at the facility. In some cases, sexual abuse by daycare employees may have been prevented if not for daycare owner negligence.
Common forms of negligence in these cases include:
In cases of negligence, daycare abuse survivors and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit against the business.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse in a daycare, you can learn more about your family's legal options by contacting an experienced sex abuse victims lawyer.