Childminder is charged with rape
A CHILDMINDER has been charged with rape and sexually assaulting four girls.
The 36-year-old, who cannot be named to protect his alleged victims, faces one count of rape on a girl under 13, four counts of sexual assault by touching girls under 13 and three charges of making indecent images of children.
All of the offences – against four youngsters in total – are alleged to have taken place in North Somerset between January 1, 2011, and November 18 last year.
Avon and Somerset police began investigating the man, believed to have been on North Somerset Council's approved list of childminders, after the authority's Children's Services department raised concerns.
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He was arrested on December 5, charged at a later date and appeared before Bristol magistrates last month.
A contempt of court order means The Post cannot name the suspect, his home address or place of work, for fear of identifying his alleged victims, who are automatically protected by law.
Avon and Somerset police spokeswoman Claire Stanley said: "An investigation began in November 2012, following information received from Children's Services.
"As a result of these safeguarding concerns in relation to a specific childminding provision in North Somerset, a 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, and making indecent images of children
"The man has been charged with committing a number of sexual offences against specific children and has subsequently been remanded in custody. Police, children's social care, health professionals and other partner agencies are actively working to support those families involved."
The premises where the alleged offences took place are no longer used for childcare.
Childminders work from home, looking after other people's children. They can care for up to six children under the age of eight, including their own, but only three of them can be aged under five, one of these being under one year old. They must be registered by Ofsted.
A spokesman for North Somerset Council said the man is not, and never has been, employed by the local authority.
"North Somerset Council has been working closely with the police during the continuing investigation into these serious criminal allegations," he told The Post.
"There is a need to respect the privacy of the families involved in what is an incredibly difficult time for them.
"The allegations have had a tremendous impact and our social workers and educational psychologists have been supporting the families concerned.
"We will continue to offer support, help and advice to families in the days and weeks to come.
"We have set up a dedicated phone line for parents and carers who have concerns about their children and that number is 01275 884997."