Joseph Gibson – Sex Offender working in Day Care

Some parents pulled their children out of a local day care after learning a registered sex offender worked at the facility.

The Cabinet of Health and Family Services told the Growing Place it had to fire the employee Tuesday morning.

Joseph Gibson, 36, was convicted of first-degree sex abuse of a 20-year-old 12 years ago.

The owner of the Growing Place said she was aware of his past and says a state worker told her it was OK for him to work with kids.

“I would say rule number one of working in a day care center, that’s not somebody you would hire,” said parent Jeff Kennedy. “It’s kind of like if you run a restaurant, you don’t let rats cook the hamburgers.”

Until Tuesday morning, Kennedy never really knew who was cooking at the Growing Place. For six weeks, Gibson served lunch to pre-school age and younger children.

Teacher Rita Bryant said there was no problem with Gibson. Loxi Foree, the center’s owner, said she had no concerns about the hire.

“He is also married to my assistant director, who’s been here five years,” she said. “I believe people have the ability to change and I wanted to give him that opportunity to show that.”

Foree said when she performed a background check, she called the state to ask if Gibson could work for her. She said a state worker claimed it was OK since his crime didn’t involve a child.

“We have no record of any such conversation and we would defer to KRS 17.165, Section 4,” said Cabinet of Health and Family Services spokeswoman Janis Stewart.

State statute says, “No child-care center… shall employ, in a position which involves supervisory or disciplinary power over a minor, or direct contact with a minor, any person who is a violent offender or has been convicted of a sex crime.”

Last week, the state returned to the center for an annual review. A spokesperson with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said they learned of Gibson’s hiring, investigated the issue and returned Tuesday to make sure he had been terminated.

Foree disputes that claim, saying the state admitted it misinterpreted the law and ordered the termination based on a tip.

Foree said there is no dispute and that her facility is a reputable one.

“We have a very loving staff here. We have security on the door,” she said. “We’ve followed every procedure. You can check our records with the state of Kentucky. Your children are safe here.”

Published in: on February 27, 2008 at 5:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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