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Eustis child care worker held, center surrenders license

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:23 PM
EUSTIS -

State officials say a Central Florida child care facility has been closed and a worker who also serves as a youth pastor was arrested on charges of sexual battery against children.

Pat's Kidz World Development Center in Eustis surrendered its license Thursday in place of having it immediately revoked, according to a statement released Saturday by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The employee, 40-year-old Kenneth Hagins of Tavares, surrendered Friday and remained in custody Saturday at the Lake County Detention Center. In addition to the battery charge, he is accused of lewd and lascivious acts on an elderly or disabled person, according to jail records. His bond was set at $200,000. Jail officials could not say if he has a lawyer.

The DCF statement said Hagins is also a youth pastor with Promise Land Ministries in Eustis and was employed at a group home for vulnerable adults.

The DCF and the Lake County Sheriff's Office began investigating allegations of child abuse at Pat's Kidz on July 11, DCF Secretary David Wilkins said in the news release. They soon heard other allegations of sexual abuse connected to Hagins at a Lake County group home, he said. So far, Wilkins said, six potential victims have been identified and others are expected to come forward.

"On July 19 at 5 p.m., at the request of the Department, the license for Pat's Kidz World Development Center was surrendered," he said. "This surrender was in place of an immediate revocation by the Department since child care providers are mandated and trained child abuse reporters." He said there had been a failure to report abuse.

Pat's Kidz and Promise Land Ministries did not immediately respond Saturday to messages seeking comment.

Wilkins also said officials are trying to make contact with 40 more families whose children attended the child care facility.

"As the Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, as well as a father, I am appalled not only by the allegations against a person of faith, but also the implication that previous similar concerns went unreported to officials," he said. "Such heinous failure to these children not only caused further harm, but allowed others to be victimized."

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