No charges filed against Pumpkin Patch | SummitDaily.com
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No charges filed against Pumpkin Patch

LORY POUNDER
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Following an investigation into allegations of child abuse at Copper Mountain’s Pumpkin Patch Day Care Center, Summit County Sheriff’s Office determined the accused staff members’ actions were not abusive or done for sexual gratification.

“The crime of sexual exploitation of children requires evidence that these daycare workers photographed the children in explicit sexual conduct,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert in a press release Tuesday. “Although their behavior is offensive, there is no evidence that the photographs were sexually suggestive or taken for sexual gratification.”

The photographs referred to are of an unlit cigarette being held to an infant’s mouth and of the bare buttocks, the release says. They were taken with a cell phone and deleted the same day, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Also, there is no indication that they were e-mailed or distributed, and they are not considered malicious.

An Order of Summary Suspension issued by the state Department of Human Services shut down the daycare center April 12, after the department conducted an investigation into allegations that two female employees abused infants. The department received the initial complaints on March 27.

Sheriff’s Office Detective Amy Nordeen investigated the allegations contained in the order and found “most of them unfounded,” according to a press release.

“No evidence was found to substantiate charging the daycare workers involved with any crimes,” the release says. The actions were more a matter of “extremely poor judgment.”

Interviews with other daycare workers did not corroborate the allegation of children with exposed genitalia being paraded around the infant room, and there was no indication of “inappropriate magazines,” the Sheriff’s Office said. Additionally, the allegation of two infants being posed in a fighting position was unfounded.

“The crime of child abuse requires evidence of physical injury to a child, and there is no evidence that a child suffered any physical injuries,” Hurlbert said in the release.

“Therefore, their poor judgment does not amount to criminal behavior.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the state Department of Human Services may continue their own investigation. In the order, it states that the center’s license is suspended pending proceedings to determine whether the license should be further suspended or revoked. However, the department could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Copper Mountain released a statement saying, “With the issue of criminal charges resolved and no longer an issue, Copper Mountain is looking forward to working with state officials to resolve the remaining issues as they relate to the future of this employee and community daycare facility.”

It also said they want to thank the families of the daycare facility for their understanding and patience during this process.

“The health, safety and welfare of children has been the focus of our attention and will continue to be of the highest importance,” the statement said.


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