By Al Pefley
Posted by Rachel Leigh
GREENACRES, FL (WFLX) - Update: Fox 29 first broke the story Wednesday. Now, the mother of a 2 year old is speaking out: Her daughter molested at an unlicensed daycare in Greenacres.
"It's very painful," describes Leonor Perez. She shudders every time she thinks about a family daycare in Greenacres where, police say, her child was fondled.
"I'm heartbroken. My daughter has changed so much, and she has told me things that she would not have seen in my household."
Police have arrested 24-year-old Octavio Basilio for lewd and lascivious molestation.
His alleged victim was Perez's 2-year-old little girl. "She was able to explain to me what he did with his hand and where he placed it. If he took off her diaper or not. She used, you know, his name and what she told me, and that's horrifying. It's horrific because this is a baby!"
Perez says she knows her daughter would not make up something like this. "She will be 3 soon. She speaks very well. She's a very bright little girl, but this is something that she and I have to learn to help her through it."
Perez placed her daughter at the daycare home last September, and, at that time, she says, the woman who ran the place, Maria Brando, assured her there would only be 5 or 6 kids there.
But when the health department showed up this month to investigate, they say, Brando had 12 kids in there, and she had no daycare license.
Perez worries that besides her daughter, other kids were fondled. "If he had access, so much access to her, and he did it to her, there is a great possibility that he could've done it to anybody. Even outside of that home. That's why I came to you guys, 'cause I want to get this out to the community."
Perez is urging anyone who has had children at that home daycare in Greenacres on Jackson Avenue to contact her by e-mail; especially, if they have questions or concerns or suspect their child might also have been abused. Her e-mail address email@example.com.
We talked to the Department of Health which regulates daycares. It says it takes every measure it can to make sure children are safe. "We physically go in three times a year, sometimes even more, and check the facility - make sure they're meeting standards. Sometimes we do surprise visits, and we answer any complaints within 48 hours."
The health department tells Fox 29 it's always important to make sure your child care facility is licensed. That means the staff is trained in child care and first aid and has undergone a complete background check. It also means the facility, itself, has been inspected for safety.
GREENACRES, FL (WFLX) - Previously: The son-in-law of a local daycare owner under arrest accused of molesting a child at the facility. The daycare is shut down, but that's not the reason.
What was going on inside a family daycare home? Plenty, and it was serious enough to get police, the Department of Children and Families and the county health department involved.
Greenacres Police have arrested the owner's son-in-law, 24-year-old Octavio Basilio of Greenacres, for lewd or lascivious molestation. They say, he was fondling a 2-year-old girl at the daycare facility while he lived there.
We talked to another mother who had a child there. "I'm very shocked at, you know, the whole situation. I mean, I never really knew he was in the house," says Christina Cruz.
After checking, investigators determined the home on Jackson Avenue had no county license as the law requires. They also say the woman who ran it, Maria Brando, was caring for 12 children.
All the kids were between the ages of 1 and 8.
On June 11, Brando was given a violation notice by the health department, and they shut her down. "She seemed very loving, very nice. You know, very loving with the kids. She considered all the kids her grandkids, basically."
When investigators showed up at the house, records show, they found a 1-year-old boy who was left in a bathroom unattended, and he was: "On top of the toilet trying to get things."
Two babies were in a bouncer, and the others were sitting on the floor watching TV.
Cruz says she did not know Brando did not have a daycare license.
Reporter asks: "Are you relieved they shut her down or do you think it wasn't necessary to shut her down?"
Cruz responds, "I mean, well, she seemed like a very nice lady, so, I mean, she was taking very good care of the kids."
One neighbor says she never saw Brando mistreating the children in her care. "I kinda feel sorry for her if that was her way of making a living, but she should've gotten a license."
We could not reach Brando for comment. She faces fines of up to $500 a day for running an unlicensed daycare.