Day-care teacher faces prison for child sex abuse

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN » A Delaware County man who ad­mit­ted to sex­u­ally abus­ing a 3-year-old girl in his care at a Nor­ris­town day­care cen­ter where he worked as a teacher is on his way to state prison.

Michael Bar­bee, 33, of the first block of Baily Road, Yeadon, was sen­tenced in Mont­gomery County Court on Tues­day to four to eight years in a state cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity in con­nec­tion with a Fe­bru­ary 2017 in­ci­dent that oc­curred while he worked as a child care worker at the St. Fran­cis of As­sisi Early Learn­ing Cen­ter in the 600 block of Hamil­ton Street in Nor­ris­town.

Judge William R. Car­pen­ter or­dered Bar­bee to have no contact

with mi­nors. Bar­bee also faces a life­time re­quire­ment to re­port his address to state po­lice in or­der to com­ply with the state’s Sexual Of­fender Regis­tra­tion and Notification Act.

Bar­bee pleaded guilty to charges of ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault of a child, un­law­ful contact with a mi­nor and endangering the wel­fare of a child in con­nec­tion with the Feb. 7, 2017, in­ci­dent.

By plead­ing guilty to the charges, Bar­bee ad­mit­ted that he was a teacher in the tod­dler class­room and was alone with the 3-yearold girl at nap time when he touched her in­ap­pro­pri­ately and sex­u­ally as­saulted

her for ap­prox­i­mately 10 se­conds, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

When the child yelled, “Ouch,” Bar­bee, who was 32 at the time, cov­ered her mouth and stopped the as­sault, pros­e­cu­tors alleged.

The case was pros­e­cuted by As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Erika Wevo­dau.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan on Feb. 8 when Nor­ris­town de­tec­tives re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that the 3-yearold girl dis­closed that her teacher, who she re­ferred to as “Mr. Michael,” touched her in­ap­pro­pri­ately, ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by former Nor­ris­town De­tec­tive Kath­leen Kelly, who is now a county de­tec­tive.

Bar­bee, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit, went to po­lice head­quar­ters for ques­tion­ing on Feb. 10 and

stated that he had helped the child in the past in the bath­room at the learn­ing cen­ter but did not touch the girl in a sexual man­ner.

Bar­bee agreed to take a poly­graph test, which was ad­min­is­tered by a Mont­gomery County de­tec­tive.

At that time, Bar­bee re­port­edly changed his story and ad­mit­ted to be­ing the only adult in the class­room with the vic­tim and other chil­dren dur­ing nap­time. Bar­bee ad­mit­ted that he sex­u­ally as­saulted the lit­tle girl for ap­prox­i­mately 10

se­conds af­ter, he claimed, she called him “stupid.”

“Bar­bee ad­mit­ted this contact was of a sexual na­ture,” Kelly alleged in the ar­rest af­fi­davit.

At the time of Bar­bee’s ar­rest, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Arch­dio­cese of Philadel­phia is­sued a state­ment say­ing Bar­bee, who had been hired in fall of 2015, was im­me­di­ately placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave when parish of­fi­cials were in­formed about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, dis­sem­i­nated to early learn­ing cen­ter fam­i­lies, parish school fam­i­lies, and parish re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion fam­i­lies, the early learn­ing cen­ter is in a sep­a­rate build­ing from the parish school, which is lo­cated at 601 Buttonwood St., Nor­ris­town, and Bar­bee did not work in the parish school build­ing.

The state­ment also in­cluded that there were no prior in­di­ca­tions that Bar­bee was in­volved in sexual crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, and he com­pleted a manda­tory safe en­vi­ron­ment train­ing pro­gram and passed ap­pro­pri­ate crim­i­nal back­ground checks and child abuse clear­ances be­fore be­ing hired.

“These charges are se­ri­ous and dis­turb­ing,” the state­ment read. “The arch­dio­cese is co­op­er­at­ing fully with law en­force­ment re­gard­ing this mat­ter and re­mains fer­vently com­mit­ted to pre­vent­ing child abuse as well as pro­tect­ing the chil­dren and young peo­ple en­trusted to its care.”

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