Minn. tribe revokes daycare license after sex assault at casino

By Patrick Condon
Onamia, Minnesota (AP) 2-08

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has revoked the vendor license of a business that operated child care centers at two of its casinos after a reported sexual assault of a 3-year-old by an older boy.

The tribe announced that New Horizon Academy will not be able to operate its Kid Quest centers at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley for at least a year. The tribal board determined that Kids Quest workers were not adequately supervising the two children involved in the incident in January, after finding the victim and the alleged assailant, who has been identified as being between ages 8 and 10, were left alone by employees for about an hour.

“The Kids Quest employees behavior was misconduct and out of line ... and outside of any reasonable expectations for supervising children,” according to a report issued by the band’s Office of Gaming Regulation and Compliance.

Neither the CEO or a spokeswoman for Plymouth-based New Horizon immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press. In an earlier statement, the company said that employees on duty at the time failed to adequately follow the company’s policies and procedures, but did not indicate if the employees in question had been fired.

The alleged assault occurred in January of 2008, after the younger boy’s mother and grandmother dropped him off at the Kids Quest at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. They returned about four hours later to find “substantial bruising on his face and neck,” according to the report. A doctor later determined a sexual assault may have occurred as well.

Based on surveillance video in the daycare center and photographs of the victim, the alleged assailant “appeared to treat (the victim) roughly, knocking him down and carrying him around.” There were also long periods within the hour where the two boys were out of view of cameras, and “what happened during these periods cannot be known with certainty,” the report said.

Tribal police are still investigating the assault itself. Patty Dunn, a spokeswoman for the Mille Lacs band, said that investigation has not yet concluded. If the assailant is under 10 years old, under state law he cannot be criminally prosecuted.

In looking into New Horizon’s vendor license, the tribe also determined that the company was out of compliance with tribal laws requiring vendors to perform criminal background checks on its employees; and that the company failed to meet the tribe’s required staff-to-child ratios.

Dunn said she didn’t know if any of the Kids Quest employees on duties actually had criminal backgrounds.

New Horizon leases space to operate childcare centers at casinos in a total of 11 other states, and also has a number of freestanding daycare centers in the Twin Cities and other locations.

Dunn said the Mille Lacs band is in the process of securing new daycare arrangements at the two casinos. Under the tribe’s order, New Horizon will be able to apply for reconsideration in a year.

 

 

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