MADISON, IN (WAVE) - A day care worker in Madison, Indiana is now facing four counts of child molestation charges.
Joseph Hook, who worked at the day care facility that his wife owns, was taken into custody on March 17.
Police said they were tipped off about his allegedly inappropriate behaviors in January when a parent of a child attending Hook's Child Day Care called 911. Indiana State Police have since then interviewed the alleged victims. Four victims total were identified in the Probable Cause Affidavit, all minors.
In Madison, news of Hook came as a shock to fellow day care owner Darlisa Davis. Davis said she has been running Darlisa's Little Darlings day care since 1994. She said news of Hook's alleged actions break her heart.
"It's our job to protect them," Davis said. "I feel honored, I have kids who were original day care kids' kids."
"It makes me very sad, as a day care owner, if it's not true, I feel bad because it hurts the business," Davis added. "But thinking about the kids first...I'm appalled."
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Indiana State Police, per protocol, has reached out to the state department of Child Services. The Children's Advocacy Center of Southern Indiana conducted the interviews with the minors about their encounters and experiences with Hook during their time at the day care facility.
The probable cause affidavit ISP filed is filled with gruesome details about the alleged sexual abuse.
Sgt. Philip Hensley said they were given the tip in January of 2017, but the investigation and court case didn't come to fruition until March because of the delicate nature of the interviews they had to conduct with minors.
Davis, who has now worked with kids for over two decades said talking about sexual abuse may be difficult with young ones, but open dialogue is the best way to gauge how your child might be treated when you're not with them.
"If someone else tries to even get your child to do something they shouldn't, they come and tell you, keep that open dialogue from as young as one to two," Davis said.
She also added that the best defense is always double checking and not being hesitant about research.
"Check numerous times, check and make sure your child is comfortable," Davis said. "If they are happy after day care and then all of a sudden if they are sad, check."
She said she recommends parents do surprise visits to the day care facility to make sure that the standards are as advertised at all hours of business.
"Do your homework, do your due diligence, anytime, anywhere you're going to send your child somewhere, when you're going to send them to a child care provider," Hensley said.
He added that this does not mean that every parent should be worried about all the day care facilities in Madison.
Hook is being held on a $100,000 bond. He has pleaded not guilty to his charges and will appear in court again in May for his pre-trial conference.
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At this time, the Jefferson County prosecutor's office has not extended Hook a plea deal. If a deal isn't worked out in the near future, Hook will face a jury in Jefferson County, Indiana.
The Children's Advocacy Center of Southern Indiana has guidelines and steps to take if you suspect that your child may have been subject to sexual abuse.
You can find the step-by-step guideline below:
- First, try to stay calm. It’s normal to be worried or angry but remember to stay calm for your child. Always remember that if anything did happen, it was not your child’s fault and it’s important the child doesn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed.
- It’s natural to want to find out if anything has happened to your child. If you are concerned, try to resist the urge to ask questions. The best course of action is to report your concerns to DCS/LEA and allow them to give you the next appropriate steps.
- If the child says anything that concerns you, report it to the Indiana Hotline- 1-800-800-5556- All cases need to be reported to this line.
- Once reported, the case will be assigned to investigators where the incident took place and they will contact you, usually within 24 hours.
- Meanwhile, give your child emotional support. Tell them that they aren’t to blame and that they are safe. Try not to dwell on the incident and ask questions about any incident so the child doesn’t worry. If the child wants to talk, listen and take note, but stay calm.
- The investigators who are in touch, usually from DCS and/or law enforcement, will let you know the next steps.