Report: Church Daycare Teacher Admits To Abusing As Many As 13 Children

| August 10, 2010

DENVER — Newly obtained court documents are shedding light on the alleged abuse that took place at the Children’s Center at Park Hill United Methodist Church.

According to a suspension report released by the Colorado Department of Human Services, "the Denver Department of Human Services has advised the Department thta Ben Janicki has admitted to sexually abusing as many as 13 children enrolled at the Park Hill United Methodist Children's Center."

The report adds that as many as 50 children will be interviewed by Denver Police.

A preschooler told police that the male teacher "tickled" parts of their bodies on at least three occasions, according to a detective’s statement of probable cause.

The documents reveal that the abuse happened as preschool-aged children were lying on mats in a classroom.

The child told a children's advocate that she asked the teacher, whom she identified as 19-year-old Benjamin Janicki, to stop but he did not. The victim told her parents about the abuse on Aug. 3. Janicki was arrested the next day.

Day care officials won’t say how many children were in Janicki’s care during his tenure. Court documents reveal he worked as a teacher’s aide from the beginning of June until the day the allegations surfaced against him.

Police have identified three possible victims. Considering his position at the school, detectives believe there could be more victims.

Denver police held a special meeting for concerned parents on Sunday. One parent said she doesn’t hold the day care accountable for what happened.

“This has got to be an isolated incident for this to have been such an important place for our neighborhood for all these years,” said Staci Amend, whose daughter attends the center.

She is now scrambling to find someone to watch her kids.

"We've got families with multiple kids that are in the school for years and have had a great experience with it for years and years and all of a sudden that is yanked from them," Amend said.

The Colorado Department of Human Services temporarily suspended the center’s operating license after Janicki’s arrest, citing "significant supervision" issues. On Monday, it remained closed as the owners work to appeal the decision.

The case against Janicki hasn’t been sent to the Denver District Attorney’s Office yet because investigators have asked for more time as they probe if there are any more victims.

A mugshot of Janicki has not been released because of the ongoing investigation.

He is being held at the Denver Justice Center on $150,000 bond for investigation of sex assault on a child in a position of trust and sexual assault on a child.

The Children’s Center has been a staple in the Park Hill neighborhood for more than 27 years. 7NEWS discovered several citations for child supervisory issues through the years — the latest in 2006.

Police are asking parents of the day care to watch for signs of abuse. On Sunday, an expert talked to parents about the signs that parents should look for to see if their child has been victimized.

"The most important advice is they're going to notice a sudden and abrupt change of behaviors. For example, a child who was very outgoing suddenly becomes introverted," said Dr. Gizane Indart with the Denver Children's Advocacy Center.

Experts say if your child has more frequent nightmares or if they become less talkative, those could be signs that something's wrong.

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