Former Charlotte daycare worker accused of forcibly fondling multiple students

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A former daycare worker in Ballantyne is accused of forcibly fondling an 8-year-old and a 7-year-old who were in his care. 

Joseph Starnes, 35, of Rock Hill, SC, was arrested on Friday on six counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, officers were made aware on March 7 of a forcible fondling incident at the Primrose School of Ballantyne, where Starnes was an employee, involving an 8-year-old boy. During the investigation, detectives found evidence that Starnes had fondled a 7-year-old boy as well.

Starnes was a former staff member at Primrose School of Ballantyne. School officials confirmed that Starnes is no longer an employee. 

"I was quite sickened," Ron Best said, a former neighbor of Starnes. "I knew he had some look in his eye, but I didn't know it was that. That's kids should never have to go through that."

A parent told FOX 46 Charlotte the daycare told parents in an email that Starnes had been arrested.

"It's obviously shocking. It's something where the first thing I did was go home, do a background check and see what I can find online," Bryan Hatley said, another parent. 

CMPD said there could be more victims. They're urging parents to listen to their children. They said a brave young boy coming forward is what broke open the case against Starnes. 

"This is a perfect example, an unfortunate example of when a parent took action, and didn't dismiss what their child shared with them on the ride home that day," CMPD Lt. Tom Barry said. 

Starnes is charged with taking indecent liberties with children.

Crimes Against Children Detectives continue to actively investigate this case to determine if there are additional victims. 

Statement from Primrose School of Ballantyne: 

"We are deeply troubled to see this news unfold as it has. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of the children entrusted to our care. Mr. Starnes had an issue-free record when the North Carolina Child Development and Early Education Health and Human Services office provided a background check on him as a part of our hiring process in May of 2014, and his previous employers actually said they would hire him again. We pride ourselves on an open-door policy with parents, and in his time at our school, evaluations of Mr. Starnes have been positive. We are fully cooperating with the authorities and are awaiting the findings of their investigation."

CMPD held a news conference Monday to discuss the investigation: 

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