Park Hill church preschool worker accused of sexual assault

| August 7, 2010

DENVER – The Park Hill United Methodist Children's Center has been shut down by state officials as police investigate allegations that a 19-year-old male staffer had inappropriate sexual contact with at least two children.

Benjamin Janiciki, hired by the church as a summer aide in the preschool classroom, was arrested Tuesday on sexual assault charges.

Court documents released on Tuesday show the parents of a young girl called police after she told her mother that a teacher had "licked and tickled her."

At a second interview the next day the girl said she told him to stop, but he did not.

She then was presented with an anatomical drawing and asked to circle the areas the teacher touched.

The State Department of Human Services shut down the daycare two days later, but not only because of the allegations.

"Small preschool kids were not being sufficiently supervised," said Liz McDonough, a spokesperson for the Colo. Department of Human Services. "While kids were playing outside, we found staff sitting outside with their backs to the kids. And you know, you have to keep an eye on them all the time,"

She said the allegations themselves might not have led to a closure because the suspect was jailed and no longer posing a threat.

"It is a very sad situation you have someone in position of trust. You'd think that person would be responsible and you'd think your child would be safe. Sometimes, unfortunately, that's not the case," said Denver Police Det. John White.

The church says it does background checks on all its employees, but Janicki does not have a criminal record in the state of Colorado.

The daycare could be closed for more than 30 days. The operators will have to appear in front of a judge and prove conditions are safe.

"The Board of Directors and the school administration have been in cooperation with the Denver Police Department since the first report of the misconduct and will continue their efforts to assist in its investigation," the Children's Center said in a statement.

Information on the second victim will be available on Monday.

Janicki is being held on $150,000 bond.,0,2758649.story

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Category: Church Security