Teen accused of molesting 2 at day care center
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 19-year-old worker at a Westside day care center is accused of lewd and lascivious molestation on two children at a church-affiliated day care center.
Rodney Romelus turned himself in on Friday after being interviewed by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives and is being held without bond.
According to the arrest report, the incidents took place last month. Both victims told police Romelus he sat down to watch a movie with them, had them sit on his lap, and then he put his hands down their pants. The two incidents occurred at separate times.
The arrest report identifies Romelus as a "day care worker," but the location where he worked was redacted from the report. The Florida Department of Children confirmed for News4Jax that he worked at Kings Kids Christian Learning Center, which is run by the Whitehouse Assembly Church of God.
The church declined to give interviews, but day care director Ray Wolfe issued a statement saying they were saddened and shocked by the allegations, adding:
"King's Kids Christian Learning Center screens and supervises its employees and King's kids leadership was surprised and saddened by the allegations of misconduct. King's Kids Christian Learning Center is committed to prayerfully supporting and assisting our families during this time, and certainly would request prayer for the victim and all involved." [Read full statement]
A Florida Department of Children and Families spokesman told News4Jax that King's Kids did exercise its option under state law for religiously-affiliated day care center not to be licensed or inspected by the state.
"They can chose to be licensed if they want to, but it does give them the option not to be inspected," said DCF spoeksman John Harrell.
Harrell said parents should be aware of the law before enrolling their children in child care facilities.
Someone who identified himself as Romelus' best friend said the behavior is out of character for him. The friend said Romelus was a member of the church and well-liked, so the pastor gave him a job.
Parents of children in the center were in disbelief over the allegations.
"It scares me," said Michelle Mari. "You never know (who) your living around. It can be in a church and even a church community."
"I don't understand somebody's mindset to do something like that. That's just a sick person," Amanda Soles said.
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