In November 2019 it was reported that a childcare worker had been arrested over allegations that children were sexually abused at the Jack and Jill Childcare Nursey, Courtland Road, Torquay, Devon. The investigation began in summer 2019 after an allegation of sexual assault was made. The police contacted more than a hundred families, but it was later stated that letters had been sent to the parents of 52 children.
The childcare worker, a boy of 17 years of age, was arrested on the 29 July, when he was released on police bail to 22 January 2020. The bail was extended while investigations continued.
He first appeared in court at Exeter Youth Court in May 2020. He was charged with one count of rape against a child and 13 counts of sexual touching in respect of eight children. This same boy was also charged with two counts of historic rape, although those charges did not relate to the Jack and Jill nursery, in Torquay. The 17-year-old was bailed until 2 June, to appear at Exeter Crown Court.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector James Stock said that officers had reviewed more than 250 hours of CCTV footage. He said, “as a result of CCTV enquiries, a number of children aged 2+ have been identified as potential victims of contact offences.” He went on to state that “the contact appears to be limited to within the nursery setting and we do not believe that any other member of staff had knowledge of the matters. These appear to be the actions of a lone individual and the offences do not involve the taking or distributing of any images”.
Nancy Meehan, Deputy Director of Torbay children’s services said, “we take safeguarding children incredibly seriously and we are working closely with partners including the police in relation to this matter”.
When appearing at court on the 2 June 2020, the 17 year old from South Devon, pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting children at the nursery, during a 19 day period. The un-named 17 year old is alleged to have raped one girl and sexually assaulted 8 others, all aged 2 or 3 years, between July 10 and July 19 2019.
This same boy is also charged with two unrelated rapes of a child between 2014 and 2015. He is alleged to have assaulted one child three times, on different dates, and another two children, twice.
He denied a total of three counts of raping a child and 13 counts of sexually assaulting a child, when he appeared by Skype at the hearing at Exeter Crown Court on the 2 June 2020.
The 17-year-old continues to be bailed.
Judge Timothy Rose set a provisional date of 21 September 2020, for a two-week trial at Exeter Crown Court. However, Judge David Evans adjourned the case until November 2020, as there were problems in the preparation of the prosecution and defence cases.
All the complainants will have lifelong anonymity, because of the nature of the offences.
Jack and Jill Childcare Nursery
The Jack and Jill nursery in Torquay was a privately-run childcare Nursery, accommodating children from birth until five years, providing full day care. The nursery was incorporated in June 2016 and registered in December 2017. On 13 July 2019 OFSTED received notification of an alleged incident at the nursery, which resulted in an unannounced visit by Ofsted and the subsequent issue of a notice to improve. That notice required the nursery to ensure that all staff understood and took account of all aspects of safeguarding children, particularly with regards to allegations made against a member of staff. On the 4 October 2019 OFSTED undertook a further visit to Jack and Jill nursery, Torquay, which resulted in the serving of a welfare requirement notice. That notice required the nursery to ensure all staff had a secure knowledge and clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, particularly with regard to staff interactions with children and how and when physical intervention was to be used.
OFSTED suspended the nursery’s registration because they believed children may have been at risk of harm. On the 8 January 2020 the Torquay nursery resigned their registration and thus the Jack and Jill Childcare Nursery, Torquay, was closed. At the time of closing the managers of the nursery made a statement: “Following [alleged] events from July 2019, we have worked tirelessly alongside the police, Ofsted and the local authority. Thank you for your support over the years, and more especially recently. The love and care shown by so many of you has brought light during such darkness. We wish you every happiness and success, and may 2020 be a year of positivity for you all. With love and thanks from Jack and Jill Childcare Limited”.
The childcare business had been operating for 15 years.
What to do if you have been the victim of sexual abuse in a nursery or school
If you or someone you know experienced sexual abuse at a nursery or school, it is not too late to pursue legal action, even if you did not report it at the time. Our child abuse solicitors are highly experienced in helping children and adults deal with both recent and historic allegations of child abuse in nurseries and schools, so please get in touch to find out more about taking action.