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Health authority shuts Saanich daycare

Apr 13 2012

The Vancouver Island Health Authority shut down a Saanich daycare after the operator failed to keep her male partner, charged with sexual offences against a child at the daycare, away from the premises while children were present.

The health authority said it suspended the Monkey Tree Daycare’s licence Wednesday within 24 hours of a complaint from a parent that the operator’s husband was on the premises when children were present.

The daycare, at 3372 Maplewood Rd., is operated by Celia Armstrong. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“This is very serious,” said Richard Stanwick, VIHA chief medical health officer. “My understanding is that the individual was not near children but by just being on the premises — whether on a driveway or in the backyard — is a violation of the terms we established. The conditions were clear that this individual was not to be on site during the daycare’s operation.”

One charge of sexual interference of a person under 16 and a second charge of sexual assault were sworn against Douglas Ralph Page, 60, on March 27, according to court documents. He was released on conditions. His next appearance is May 29.

Saanich police began an investigation in January based on a complaint from a parent whose child attended the daycare, said Sgt. Dean Jantzen. Page was arrested at the end of January and released on strict conditions.

According to court documents, the offences are alleged to have taken place on Nov. 10, 2010. Police said they allegedly took place at the Saanich daycare.

“The allegation involves a minor child, of no relation to the accused,” said Jantzen.

Police have no evidence or allegations involving other victims, Jantzen said. “Some aspects of the investigation continue,” he said. VIHA said it was informed of the police investigation in late January.

The health authority conducted its own investigation and imposed conditions on the daycare operator — namely that Page not be allowed on the property or premises during operating hours or any time children were present.

However, on April 10, a parent told VIHA the accused had contravened those conditions.

The conditions were broken “one or more times,” said VIHA spokeswoman Shannon Marshall.

On the advice of lawyers, VIHA sought confirmation of that allegation from two other parents. Within 24 hours, it shut down the daycare, Stanwick said.

Stanwick called the suspension troublesome. “It’s an imperfect system, and in this case we trusted someone, and I guess that trust was misplaced. We’ll see what happens.”

The daycare operator can appeal the suspension.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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