Police: Victim of accused Norristown preschool teacher was a child in his care

Michael Barbee
Michael Barbee

NORRISTOWN >> A former preschool teacher facing numerous child sex assault charges is accused of victimizing a 3-year-old girl entrusted to his care, according to a criminal complaint filed in Montgomery County District Court Feb. 11.

Michael Barbee, 32, of the fist block of Baily Road in Yeadon, was arrested Feb. 10, after an alleged sexual assault Feb. 7 at the St. Francis of Assisi Early Learning Center, Norristown, was reported to police.

Barbee — who an archdiocesan representative says was hired in fall of 2015 — was immediately placed on administrative leave when parish officials were informed of the investigation.

The child reportedly told authorities she was assaulted by her teacher, “Mr. Michael,” according to the arresting affidavit.

Advertisement

Barbee came to police headquarters for questioning Feb. 10 and initially denied any sexual contact with the child, the affidavit states.

He agreed to a polygraph test, which was administered by a Montgomery County detective, after which he reportedly changed his story and admitted to being the only adult in the room with the victim and other children during naptime, when he sexually assaulted her for approximately 10 seconds after, he said, she called him “stupid.”

Barbee was arraigned in district court following his arrest and remains behind bars with bail set at $750,000.

Charges against him include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, endangering the welfare of children and unsworn falsification to authorities among others.

His next scheduled court date is Feb. 22.

On Wednesday, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Kenneth Gavin released a statement containing information disseminated to early learning center families, parish school families, and parish religious education families concerning the matter.

According to the statement, the early learning center is in a separate building from the parish school, which is located at 601 Buttonwood St., Norristown, and Mr. Barbee did not work in the parish school building.

The statement also says there were no prior indications that Barbee was involved in sexual criminal activity, and he completed a mandatory safe environment training program and passed appropriate criminal background checks and child abuse clearances before being hired.

“These charges are serious and disturbing,” the statement reads. “The Archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care.”

Anyone with information regarding Barbee is asked to contact the Norristown Police Department’s Detectives Division at 610-270-0977.