ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orange County judge sentenced a former day care teacher Tuesday, who admitted to molesting children, to 15 years probation.
In a deal reached with the state, Jayrico Hamilton pleaded guilty in March to three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct. Hamilton would have faced up to life in prison if he were to have been found guilty in a jury trial.
Hamilton, known as "Mr. Jay," taught at Bright Horizons Child Care and Learning Center in Orlando when he was arrested last year. Several parents told investigators their children had been sexually abused during nap time.
Orange County Judge Elaine A. Barbour sentenced Hamilton to 15 years sexual offender probation. He is not allowed contact with victims or their families.
Parents of Hamilton's victims provided emotional victim statements in court ahead of the sentencing.
"This is the worst thing that has ever happened to us," a victim's father said. "When families have this happen to them, it takes over their life."
Several parents said they are unsure how this will affect their young children's lives going forward. Most of the victims were between 3 and 4 years old at the time.
"To get up every day and see the sadness in your child's eyes," a mother said. "He's sad, and 6-year-old little boys shouldn't be sad. We are doing everything we can to take the sadness away."
After hearing a victim impact statement from a mother and father, Barbour told them, "These cases are some of the most difficult that come through the criminal justice system," adding she hopes the sentencing will provide "some small measure of closure."
Sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman says this is the first step to closure.
"Unfortunately for this child, it's a life sentence. Healing from abuse is a very long journey, but we are pleased the family has some measure of closure," he said in a statement. "We look forward to holding the school, Bright Horizons accountable in the civil case."