Two more indictments have been issued in connection to the First United Methodist Church day care child abuse case.
The Rev. Paige Williams, 61, senior pastor at the Hopkinsville church, and former day care director Abby Leach, 32, were both indicted for complicity to first-degree child abuse.
According to court documents, the pair committed complicity to criminal abuse by "intentionally breaching their legal duty to protect (seven) minor children all less than 13 months old, by failing to prevent Allison Simpson from intentionally abusing these children."
The incident allegedly occurred between Dec. 1, 2018 and Jan. 28, 2019, the documents added.
Leach was day care director at the time of the alleged abuse last year. The church hired a new day care director, Cynthia Dougherty, in February who has since resigned following a separate investigation.
The court documents for Williams and Leach state that their actions "placed (the seven children) in a situation that might cause serious physical injury, causes torture, cruel confinement or cruel punishment at the hands of Simpson."
These indictments come months after 24-year-old Simpson was arrested Jan. 30 for the alleged abuse.
According to New Era archives, on Jan. 10, Simpson allegedly subjected two babies to cruel confinement and punishment while she was working at the day care. She is accused of putting a 10-month-old and an 8-month-old in "substantial danger of serious injury," the report states.
No other details about the incident have yet to be released.
Despite that, more charges will be brought against Simpson in the future, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Boling.
In Simpson's original indictment, she was charged with the abuse of two children. However, in Williams' and Leach's indictments, there are seven children listed. Boling explained that new charges will be brought against Simpson for the five remaining children.
Boling also shared that the investigation is still ongoing, and they are not ready to rule out other suspects at this time, but no other suspects are currently being indicted.
The day care at the local Methodist church has been in the process of rebuilding after investigations from Hopkinsville Police Department and the Division of Regulated Child Care.
These indictments come just after Dougherty, the most recent day care director, resigned Tuesday.
According to the Rev. Jeff Calhoun, director of modern worship and adult discipleship at the church, Doughtery accepted a position elsewhere.
In June, the Methodist Church received a scathing inspection from the DRCC with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, leading to the day care being closed for roughly a week last month.
According to that investigation, 37 children were present June 24 and surveillance video footage between June 20 and 24 was reviewed.
Based on the video, the licensee -- the church day care -- was not in compliance with the director requirements for health, safety and comfort, as listed in Kentucky Administrative Regulation 922.
In the video, Dougherty, "firmly grabbed two 4-year-old boys by one arm and pulled them toward (herself) to talk with each child," the report stated. " ... In addition, the director used a white envelope to tap one of the two 4-year-old children's mouths because the child continued to talk."
Dougherty was also required to report to the Division of Regulated Child Care her exact interaction with both children.
In the report, Dougherty said she used her hand to "flick" the left ear of the same 4-year-old child when the child continued to talk and make mouth noises in the Little Chapel area.
"The director also placed her left foot/shoe on the back of both calves of the same 4-year-old child's legs because the child continued to move while kneeling in front of an adult-size chair during 'thinking time' in the Little Chapel," the report continued.
A review of the center's discipline policy of the employee handbook states, "Under no circumstances are children at First United Methodist Church Daycare disciplined with corporal punishment (physical), verbal abuse, humiliation or withholding of food or toys."
No specific details have been released regarding the indictments of Williams and Leach.
Leach was arrested and lodged in the Christian County Jail at around 1:45 p.m. Friday. However, Leach has been released on a $10,000 bond.
Williams has not been arrested at the time of this publication.
Simpson was released Jan. 31 on bond, according to jail records.
New pension law 'negative' for state's credit rating,Moody's says
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT -- Kentucky's new pension law, which provides financial incentives for regional universities, county health departments and dozens of other quasi-governmental agencies to exit the state pension system, is a "negative" for the state's credit rating, the credit rating agency Moody's said Monday.
Moody's declared the new law "credit negative" because "it pushes pension costs into the future and raises the likelihood Kentucky will take responsibility for a greater share of the Kentucky Employees Retirement System's unfunded liabilities," said David Jacobson, vice president of communications for Moody's, in a news release.
Still, the "credit negative" declaration does not imply a rating outlook change for Kentucky's credit rating, Jacobson said.
The Kentucky General Assembly last month in a special session called by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin approved a measure to let public employers at regional universities, community and technical colleges and quasi agencies to decide next year whether to stay in the state retirement system and face a near-doubling of their pension contribution rates or agree to leave.
The law, backed by Bevin, offers several incentives to the public employers if they agree to freeze their employees' pensions and transfer them into a defined-contribution retirement account, such as a 401(k) plan. An estimated 7,000 public employees would be affected, many of them middle-aged and well into their careers.
Kentucky Retirement Systems faces unfunded pension liabilities of $23.5 billion, and contribution rates have soared. State government is paying the equivalent of 84 percent of its payroll into KRS for pensions. Under the new law, the rate for the regional universities and other quasi-governmental entities is capped at 49 percent until next summer.
Bevin said in Louisville Monday that he was not surprised by the Moody's statement.
"This Kentucky pension system is essentially bankrupt," he told the Associated Press. "It is a mess, and that's what I've been saying for four years straight. And so that doesn't surprise me at all. We have so much more work to do."
House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook, said House Democrats warned about the same concerns expressed by Moody's before the governor's pension bill was passed into law.
"Less than two weeks after the bill was signed into law, our predictions are coming true," he said. "We offered a more fiscally responsible alternative that would have provided financial stability and security to the system and would have upheld our promise to career public service employees. It is time for the governor to put people over politics and work on issues in a true bipartisan manner."
Jim Carroll, president of Kentucky Government Retirees, said the Moody's assessment is predictable.
"The entire premise of House Bill 1 was to solve an employer contribution problem without providing more funding," he said. "It shifts risks to the commonwealth while at the same time assaulting the contract rights of employees. It is a bad bill that at best will have dire consequences."
Republican supporters of the bill said public employers need to be able to leave a pension system they no longer can afford to support, paying off their existing pension liabilities in one lump sum or over 30 years.
Opponents raised several concerns. One was whether freezing pensions and offering a less attractive retirement benefit would violate the "inviolable contract" rights of public employees, generating legal challenges. Republican supporters of the bill say they don't believe employees of the quasi-governmental agencies are covered by the inviolable contract, but they acknowledge that lawsuits are likely.
Another concern is the financial security of the employees themselves, who could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits if they are moved into less generous 401(k) plans with no guarantee of an employer match, some lawmakers said.
Moody's said Monday it calculates Kentucky's adjusted net pension liability, which includes the state Teachers' Retirement System, as of fiscal year 2017 at $48 billion, which equated to 332 percent of state revenue.
"This is the third highest pension liability among all 50 states and has been largely driven by years of very weak contributions," said the credit rating agency.
The new law will increase liabilities in coming years, Moody's said.
Moody's uses a sliding scale to publicly evaluate the creditworthiness of entities that issue debt through bonds: Aaa, Aa1, Aa2, Aa3, A1, A2, A3, Baa1, Baa2 and Baa3
Kentucky' is rated at Aa3, indicating it's fairly stable. If the bond rating is lowered, it would cost the state more to borrow money.