Six new charges have been approved against a Maple Ridge man accused of sexually abusing children at his wife’s home daycare.
Meanwhile, charges against another man accused of alleged sexual assault at a separate Maple Ridge home daycare were stayed, and a trial planned for December was cancelled.
B.C. Crown spokesman Neil McKenzie confirmed that the additional charges have been laid against 37-year-old Latif Hamad Tata, in relation to an additional young victim allegedly molested at the daycare.
Tata now faces a total of 12 charges in relation to four alleged victims, McKenzie said: four counts each of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.
He was arrested on Dec. 13 and had a bail hearing in early January. He remains in police custody under a detention order issued on Jan. 7 and will likely remain in custody until his next court hearing Jan. 28.
McKenzie explained that because the proceedings are under a publication ban, the precise reason for Tata’s continued detention could not be released.
However, generally speaking, an accused can be detained if deemed a threat to public safety, a flight risk, or likely to commit a criminal offence if released.
A Ridge Meadows RCMP official also confirmed that new charges involving one additional victim had been sworn and that police are continuing to investigate and are looking for “anyone who may be a possible victim” or additional witnesses.
At the time of the alleged assaults, Tata was living in the home on 122nd Avenue, and the daycare, Shining Stars Daycare, was operated in the basement.
The daycare, which opened in February 2009 and was licensed to care for seven children, was voluntarily closed after the arrest and the home is for sale.
The daycare in question is not to be confused with a separate Montessori program with a similar name in east Maple Ridge.
Anyone with information in the case can call Ridge Meadows RCMP at (604) 463-6251.
Meanwhile, Edgar Hernandez, 48, had faced one count of sexual interference and one count of sexual assault in connection with an alleged incident involving a young girl at Dragonfly Daycare in December 2009. His wife had also operated the daycare out of their home.
However, a review of his file by a Crown prosecutor that determined the Crown would not be able to prove Hernandez guilty led to the charges being stayed last September, and the trial cancelled.
The daycare has since closed.
-Elaine O’Connor is with The Province.
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