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Woman Accused Of Abusing Girls At Her Day-Care Center

A 50-year-old woman is accused of raping and sexually molesting two preschool girls in a day-care center she operated.

Peggy Jannot pleaded innocent this week in Lincoln County Superior Court to charges that she raped a 4-year-old girl and sexually molested a 5-year-old girl in September. Her trial is scheduled to begin March 1.

Jannot is a lifelong Wilbur resident who worked at a local store for 11 years and opened her day care three years ago. Authorities say 12 children attended the unlicensed day-care center. A court order now prohibits her from having any contact with children other than her granddaughter, whom she continues to baby-sit.

Jannot’s attorney, Mary Schultz of Spokane, said the charges are “probably one of the more ludicrous alleged day-care abuse cases that anyone is going to see. The charges are absolutely false … and we fully intend to take them to trial unless these charges are dismissed outright.”

Schultz noted one of the alleged victims was questioned for months by her mother and at first said repeatedly that she had not been abused.

“Sometimes people can place the child in the position of affirming their own statements,” Schultz said. “The child, in fact, gets tired of saying ‘no, no, no.”’

Schultz said one mother’s accusations started an “insidious progression” that resulted in allegations by another child. A third child reportedly “is starting to make certain suggestions,” Schultz said.

“I think, when the full story comes out at trial, it is going to scare the you-know-what out of anyone who provides day care for children of this age,” Schultz said.

According to an affidavit filed by Lincoln County Prosecutor Ron Shepherd:

The mother of the 5-year-old became concerned in March 1992, two months after enrolling her daughter in the day care. She said the girl’s genitals appeared to be red and the girl was reluctant to be bathed.

When the mother asked whether anyone had touched her improperly, the girl said no on several occasions and tried to change the subject. Eventually, the girl said Jannot had “poked” her, but the mother didn’t immediately contact authorities.

The mother called Jannot after the girl told her the same thing again in August and September 1994. Then Jannot called the mothers of other children in her day care and one of them contacted the 5-year-old’s mother.

The second mother said she asked her 4-year-old daughter whether Jannot had ever “been mean” to her and the girl said no. But the mother said when she asked whether Jannot had touched the girl’s genitals, the girl started crying and screaming.

In subsequent interviews with law enforcement officers and a representative of the Regional Center for Child Abuse and Neglect, the 4-yearold reported Jannot twice raped her, according to the affidavit.

If convicted, Jannot faces a maximum penalty of life for each charge.