Maple Valley daycare shut down after employing child molester

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) shut down the Maple Valley daycare where investigators say a convicted child molester worked.

Joseph "Jay" Hefner, 25, also known as Joseph Jones, is in jail on a $500,000 bond. He is charged with first-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Probable cause documents that FOX 13 Seattle obtained say that over a two-year period, Hefner groomed and sexually assaulted two sisters. One of the little girls was just about 12 and the other just about 10 when the incidents started. 

"I felt like I wanted to puke for the first couple days, the betrayal, right?" said the little girls’ father, who did not want to share his name.

He told FOX 13 Seattle that Hefner infiltrated their home by pretending to be a friend and by gaining the family’s trust. The father said he was able to do this because he was a teacher at Discovery Platyown, a daycare in Maple Valley.

Investigators say the victims were not enrolled at the daycare. However, the father said his other child was enrolled in the school, and that is how they met Hefner.

"He fooled us. He fooled every parent in that daycare," he said.

According to the probable cause documents, Hefner is already a convicted child molester. The family and many others in the community are asking how he could get a job at a daycare.

Court documents show that Hefner committed sex crimes as a teenager, and only had to register as a sex offender until 2021.

The owner of the daycare said they checked Hefner’s background, and it came back clean, and an official with DCYF confirmed that this is true.

"Can a child’s juvenile records be sealed? Yes," said Michael Pfau.

Pfau, a partner with Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala Attorneys at Law, is an expert on child sex abuse cases, with 25 years of experience. He is investigating Discovery Playtown.

He said employers need to do more than check someone’s background when hiring candidates to work around children.

"Why was this person hired? Was he asked any questions at the daycare before he was hired," he said. "Sometimes, people are hired, perhaps, without the full vetting process. Do they know someone? Did they graduate from the school or the daycare themselves," he added.

In a statement posted to its now-deleted Facebook, Discovery Playtown said despite doing background checks, they fired their director for "violation of company policies."

FOX 13 Seattle spoke to employees at the daycare on Wednesday, who told us it was shocking when they found out about the arrest.

A few hours later, DCYF shut down the daycare and suspended its licenses.

DCYF told us the reason for the suspension is due to the investigation.


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