CANTON, S.D. (KELO) — A former day care worker who pleaded guilty to sexual contact with children at a Lincoln County day care will serve 25 years in prison.

Chris Phoumy was sentenced in a Lincoln County courtroom on Monday. He pleaded guilty in March to six counts of sexual contact with children under the age of 16; he also pleaded guilty to one count of abuse or cruelty to a minor.

The crimes were caught on camera in September 2022 at Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy in southern Sioux Falls. Court papers say day care staff and investigators discovered several instances where Phoumy appeared to be touching children’s bottoms underneath their blankets. All of the victims were three- and four-year-old children.

Phoumy also faces nine counts of sexual contact with children under 16 stemming from incidents in Minnehaha County. Some of those alleged incidents were at a day care in April 2022, more than four months before the Lincoln County allegations surfaced.

Judge Rachel Rasmussen sentenced Phoumy on Monday to 45 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, with 20 years suspended and credit for about 11 months of time served.

“We want our children to be protected, and when a monster operates within an organization in a way that Mr. Phoumy did, it breaks that trust,” Lincoln County State’s Attorney Tom Wollman said. “It breaks the trust of the children. It breaks the trust of the parents.”

Victim impact statements from parents in the courtroom on Monday shared disbelief that such crimes could take place. Rasmussen called Phoumy a “sexual predator.”

“It’s a far-reaching case just in terms of the number of victims that we have, and but when you multiply that times families and relatives and just all these parents that drop off kids, it’s, it was a big case,” Wollman said.

A letter from Phoumy to the victims was read aloud in court Monday. In the letter, the 27-year-old shared that he was sorry and said that he had become “the monster” which he himself hated when he was a child.