Judge rules day care center to be closed

Authorities investigating apparent child sex abuse

October 08, 2003|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

An administrative law judge closed a day care center near Westminster yesterday, upholding a state agency's decision to suspend the center's license in the midst of a child sexual abuse investigation, state officials said.

After a two-day hearing last week, Judge Alan B. Jacobson ruled yesterday that the emergency suspension of Rainbows and Reasons' day care license will stand, said Norris West, a spokesman with the state Department of Human Resources, which licenses day care facilities.

The department sent staff to the day care center in the 2100 block of Sykesville Road yesterday afternoon to advise parents that the center's license was suspended and the facility was closed, West said.

Joseph Murtha, an attorney representing William Cunningham, who owns Rainbows and Reasons and three other child care centers in Carroll County, said he intends to file today for an immediate stay of the ruling in Carroll Circuit Court.

"As we continue to pursue the legal options that are available, we continue to believe that the children are not at risk and the day care center should have been permitted to remain open," Murtha said. "Part of the process of trying to describe what did or did not happen is somewhat cloaked in the secrecy of the ongoing [police] investigation."

A man who state police say worked as a part-time computer technician at Rainbows and Reasons was arrested Aug. 19 during an investigation into the apparent sexual abuse of a 1-year-old boy. No charges have been filed in that investigation, but the man, identified as James A. Gregory, 58, of Baltimore, is a convicted child molester who is wanted by Washington state authorities on a parole violation.

Gregory, who faces an extradition hearing Friday, was sentenced in October 1990 to 3 1/2 years in prison for child molestation, authorities said.

The suspension of Rainbows and Reasons' license is effective immediately and has no time limit, said Linda Heisner, executive director of the state's child care administration.

"We felt that the health and safety of the children could not be assured at that site," she said, "and the only way we could be sure was to have them closed until this investigation is concluded."

An employee answering the phone yesterday afternoon at Cunningham's main office directed all questions to Murtha.

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