Lee’s Summit day care worker charged with sexually abusing child; owner also charged

An 18-year-old day care worker is facing charges after a child was reportedly sexually abused inside a bathroom at the Lee’s Summit business, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release.

The worker, identified as Joseph Hammerly, is charged with two felony counts of statutory sodomy.

Emily Hammerly, 47, the owner of Little Learner day care, is also charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a felony, and failing to report child abuse as a mandated reporter, a misdemeanor.

Lee’s Summit police were called to investigate after the child’s parents reported the alleged sexual contact earlier this month.

According to court records, the child told one of her teachers on July 11 that another teacher, “Mr. Joe,” took her to the bathroom and made the child perform oral sex. The child said he gave her candy afterward and told her not to tell anyone, court records said. It allegedly happened July 10.

The teacher then contacted the business manager of the day care, who informed the child’s parents.

A detective responded to Little Learner, at 800 S.E. Church St., interviewed staff members and reviewed security video, which allegedly showed the teacher, Joseph Hammerly, escorting the child alone to the bathroom two separate times. Prosecutors noted no camera was inside the bathroom where the alleged sexual abuse occurred.

Police also interviewed the child, whose story was found to be consistent with what was reported to the day care staff, the news release said.

Emily Hammerly, the owner of the day care and mother of the teacher in question, told police in an interview she was notified of the incident on July 11. She told police she didn’t instruct any of the employees to report it through the state hotline because “her first priority was to contact (the child’s) mother,” court records said. Emily Hammerly said she talked to her son and found nothing “odd, concerning or disbelieving,” according to court records, and allowed him to keep working.

The owner said she made sure her son was not to be left alone with any of the children during his shift.

After the incident was reported July 11, Joseph Hammerly continued working throughout the day while the child was still present, a teacher told police.

Joseph Hammerly did not provide a statement to police and requested an attorney.

The prosecutor’s office filed charges Tuesday against Joseph Hammerly and Emily Hammerly.

Their cases are pending in Jackson County Circuit Court. A court date has not yet been scheduled.

The Little Learner day care could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday night.

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.