Man charged with sexually assaulting children in his in-home day care

PENN TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WPVI) -- A Delaware County man has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting children who attended his in-home daycare in Chester County.

James Anthony Battista has been charged with rape of a child, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children.

The crimes allegedly happened nearly a decade ago when James Battista ran an in-home daycare center, Little Friends Day Care in Penn Township, Chester County. His wife owned the business for 25 years.

The daycare has since closed.

He was taken into custody Wednesday near his home in Drexel Hill.

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Last June, Pennsylvania State Police Avondale Barracks received a report that Battista had sexually assaulted a child who attended the daycare on the 2700 block of Newark Road when the child was 3 years old.

During the course of the investigation, three other children were identified as victims. These children would have ranged in age from 3 to 7 years old at the time of the alleged assaults, which spanned from 2006-2009.

Pennsylvania State Police said they fear there are more victims that have yet to come forward.

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After the daycare closed, Battista moved to Delaware County in 2010.

Sandra Laxton lives right down the street from where the daycare stood. "They'd scream at them like they were dogs. With what I heard from just being outside, I wouldn't have thought it was a safe place for (the children) to have been," said Laxton.

The first reports of abuse against Battista first came in 2009, then again in 2010. But, investigators didn't prosecute him.

"No charges were filed. The victims were 3- and 4-years-old. Based on that, and other factors, a decision was made to hold off on prosecution at that time," said PA State Trooper Stefano Gallina.
State Police are asking anyone who suspects their child may have been abused at Little Friends Day Care or at the hands of James Battista, to come forward.

Battista is in custody and will face a judge for a preliminary hearing on Friday.

Anyone with information on this investigation is asked to contact Tpr. Stefano Gallina at the Avondale Barracks at 610-268-2022.
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