INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A Jackson County judge rejected a plea deal Monday for a Lee’s Summit daycare operator charged with child endangerment.
Public outrage over the plea deal got the judge’s attention. Nearly 5,000 people signed an online petition in the last two days, objecting to the proposed plea deal in this case.
Judge Kenneth Garrett says he didn’t like the suspended imposition of sentence deal, which would have effectively wiped away a criminal record for Emily Hammerly, after she completed the terms of her probation.
Hammerly has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and failure to report child abuse, after her 18-year-old son, Joseph, allegedly sexually assaulted three 5-year-old girls at her business, Little Learner Daycare.
Parents of the victims said they want Emily Hammerly charged and convicted of a felony.
The judge said the community is best served by making sure, if Emily Hammerly is convicted, she’s not involved with child care again.
“It would essentially be as if she got away with a crime,” said the father of one of the victims.”Five years from now, after completing her probationary sentence, there would be nothing on her record. She’s lived these last two years as if nothing has happened. She would live these five years of probation as if nothing had happened. Then her record would be clear.”
Following the judge’s decision to move forward with a trial in the case, the victims’ parents have asked the Jackson County prosecutor to request that the Missouri Attorney General’s office take over the cases against Hammerly and her son, as special prosecutors.
One father told FOX 4 there’s a big trust gap now between county prosecutors and the victims’ families.
In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said it believed a plea agreement was an appropriate outcome in the case.
“We will fight for justice on both cases independently. The plea agreement scheduled this morning in the Emily Hammerly case was offered in the hopes of limiting the three child victims’ courtroom testimony to one case, not two. It was also unfortunate that inaccurate information circulated regarding the original plea agreement,” the prosecutor’s office said in the statement.
Emily Hammerly’s trial is now scheduled for a hearing next month. She and her attorney declined to comment following Monday’s ruling.