CANTON, S.D. (KELO) — A former day care worker accused of sexual contact with children at a Lincoln County daycare has pleaded guilty. It comes as part of a plea deal for 27-year-old Chris Phoumy; he pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual contact with children under the age of 16.
The alleged 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 10 different instances where Phoumy appeared to be touching children’s bottoms underneath their blankets. All six of the victims were three- and four-year-old children.
According to an arrest affidavit, parents with children at Kids ‘R’ Kids are able to watch surveillance camera video remotely. A parent saw someone who appeared to be a caregiver placing his hand underneath a kid’s blanket as they were sleeping. The parent reported this to Kids ‘R’ Kids.
Following a review of the video, Phoumy was confronted and fired. Video footage would reveal various instances of problematic physical contact between Phoumy and students; he eventually faced nine counts of sexual contact with children. He pleaded not guilty to all nine back in October, but as part of a plea deal on Friday, he pleaded guilty to six counts. Three counts were dismissed.
According to a statement from Kids ‘R’ Kids, Phoumy had passed all background checks before beginning work there, and the day care promptly reported the incident to law enforcement, the state and child protective services. Phoumy was fired on September 21, 2022, just 15 days after Kids ‘R’ Kids opened.
According to the judge at Friday’s change of plea hearing, Monday brings the “second part” of the plea agreement. Friday’s hearing only involved the Lincoln County allegations.
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 daycare in April 2022, which was more than four months before the Lincoln County allegations surfaced.