Parents irate about possible plea deal in Lee’s Summit daycare abuse case

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The families of two children allegedly abused at a daycare are sharing their stories.

It happened two years ago at Little Learner Daycare in Lee’s Summit. A mother and son were charged in the case.

The daycare has since closed, but what allegedly happened inside will stay with three girls forever.

“After two years of escaping justice, she might be able to escape it completely,” one of the fathers said.

According to the Jackson County prosecuting attorney, 18-year-old Joseph Hammerly sexually assaulted three 5-year-old girls in 2019. She said his mother, Emily Hammerly, didn’t speak up.

FOX4 spoke with two of the victims families but hid their identity to protect their daughters.

“The story was just so detailed and so real and believable, and she’s never said anything near like that before. We had to know it was a genuine story,” one father said.

Court documents detail Joseph Hammerly sexually abusing the girls, and then his mother attempting to cover it up.

Joseph Hammerly was charged with two counts of attempted statutory sodomy of a child under the age of 12. Emily Hammerly was charged with felony endangering the welfare of a child and failure of a mandated reporter to report child abuse.

Emily Hammerly’s trial is scheduled for Monday, June 28. However, the families said she’s been offered a plea deal — with no jail time and the ability to plead down to a misdemeanor for the endangerment charge.

“That felony is very important. If this is happening to this case with young children, if it happens again with a different case is the outcome the same? Is this setting a precedence?” one of the mothers said.

“We were just awestruck. And I asked why they were doing this, and they put out this pretense I believe is false, that there are so many lawsuits going on that Emily needed to be able to earn money so victims could collect,” a father said.

They’re worried if a deal like this is made for Emily Hammerly, what could be possible in Joseph’s case? The families want to make sure what happened to their girls doesn’t happen again.

“These are 5-year-old girls, multiple victims. You’re not going to step up for these kids? It just seems awful to me,” a father said.

“Always listen to your children. Always,” a mother said.

The families are hoping the attorney general can get involved to make sure there’s no plea deal. They’re hoping others in the community will write to both the attorney general and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker on the issue.

Back in 2019, FOX4 also spoke with a Heather Bryant who said back in 2017 her daughter had a similar incident at Little Learner, but she didn’t know Joseph Hammerly. She said her daughter was abused. Bryant went to the state for help, but her case never went anywhere.

“There was an incident with another child. It was another girl in her classroom,” Bryant said. “My daughter came home that night and was very explicit. She’s 2 years old or was 2 years old at the time.”

She said she went immediately to Emily Hammerly with the information, but Bryant said Hammerly brushed it off.

“The response was very defensive and very just almost like, ‘Oh, that’s not a big deal,’” Bryant said. “’Kids tell stories all the time.’ The owner gave an example of her kid saying something that didn’t happen. But as a parent, that’s not at all the reaction that you want. You want a source of empathy.”

She said the state told her there was no evidence of any crimes because there were no cameras in the bathroom where the alleged incident occurred. In Joseph Hammerly’s case, he’s accused of taking his alleged victims into the bathroom at the daycare.

“I believed in my heart of all hearts that something would happen, and maybe that was a tip off to a future event,” Bryant said. “You never want to wish this on somebody’s kids, but I think with me bringing it to their attention it might have.”

FOX4 requested to have our cameras in the courtroom during Emily Hammerly’s trial on Monday. We also reached out to Peters Baker’s office; they told FOX4 they cannot comment on an ongoing case and could not confirm or deny if any plea deals have been offered.

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