Updated: Jul 22, 2018
The husband of a daycare owner has been arrested and charged with inappropriately touching children.
Since that arrest, five more people have come forward alleging they too are victims.
When 46-year-old John Robert Westmoreland was arrested last week, he was charged with six counts of touching a child with lustful purposes in Lafayette County. Westmoreland's wife has not been charged with any crime.
Now, the small town of Harmontown is talking about what happened for years at a place where parents trusted to keep their children safe.
"It's hard to explain the hurt that comes from it,” said one victim’s relative, who asked not to be identified. "This whole community has trusted this family."
The relative said the incidents happened in a home on Country Road 508 where the pedophile's wife ran an daycare. Lafayette County Sheriff's Department said the daycare was unlicensed because it did not service enough children to warrant state regulation.
Mississippi Health Department said daycares must get licensed if they serve more than five children. Neighbors said the Westmoreland daycare did watch over more than five children, so they didn't understand why the daycare didn't get licensed.
"It's heart-wrenching,” the relative said. “It's heart-wrenching to know that we put our kids in their care and then something like this can happen to them."
She said her relative was the first victim to come forward.
"It makes me proud of them to come forward, but never once would I have dropped off a kid over there thinking, having an inclination that something bad was going to happen to them,” she said.
When reporters stopped by the child molester
's house Monday afternoon, no one answered.
The victim’s relative has grown up in the Harmontown community and said they are devastated and divided over these accusations.
"We're just trying to stay close together and stick with each other and be beside the kids that need it,” the relative said.
The sheriff's department said all six victims are between the age of 10 and 12.
"I don't want to see him get out,” the relative said. “He's probably in the best place for him right now."
The Lafayette County Sheriff's Department is asking any other potential victims to come forward by calling 662-234-6421.