A Grove man was arrested on Friday, March 17, on rape and lewd molestation charges involving a 5-year-old girl.

According to Detective Mark Sheridan with the Grove Police Department, Aaron Matthew Bratcher was arrested on Friday evening and transported to the Delaware County Jail in Jay on two felony charges: rape by instrumentation and lewd molestation.

Bratcher has since been released on a $100,000 bond. He will appear in Delaware County District Court at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 22. 

About the charges

The charges, Sheridan said, stem from an incident which allegedly took place at Noah's Ark Childcare and Learning Center, also known locally as Miss Debbie's Noah's Ark Childcare, while Bratcher was the owner and director.

According to the affidavit for arrest, filed in Delaware County District Court by Sheridan, the victim reported in January Bratcher — identified as "Uncle Guy" — allegedly molested her while she was sitting on his lap. 

Sheridan indicated that during the interview with a forensic interviewer with the Delaware County Children's Special Advocacy Network, the child disclosed the incident took place while she and her brother were the only children at the facility.

In a statement given to her mother, the child said other children were present during the incidents.

Sheridan said during an interview with Bratcher on Jan. 20, the man denied the allegations. Sheridan said Bratcher's denials were "very weak in nature," and that Bratcher did not have an explanation for why the victim would make the allegations. 

When contacted, following his release from jail, Bratcher declined to make a statement, referring all comments to his attorney Winston Connor II. 

On Monday, Connor declined to make a statement, saying he is still in the process of reviewing the case.

Sheridan said as of this time, no other victims have come forward. Persons with information about the case are asked to contact Sheridan at 918-786-6121. 

More about Bratcher

At the time of the incident, Bratcher and his wife, Samantha owned and operated Miss Debbie's Noah's Ark Daycare on North Main in Grove. 

He was also a volunteer scout leader with Cub Scout Pack 713 and Boy Scout Troop 713, chartered through First United Methodist Church, of Grove.

Daycare

According to Jennifer Kay Gardner, Bratcher's last day at the facility was Friday, Dec. 30, 2016.

Gardner said she is in the process of renting to own the facility from Bratcher and his wife.

Gardner said she began talking to Bratcher in mid-December about purchasing the facility, after she learned they might close the business.

A master early childhood teacher, Gardner said she was excited for the opportunity to purchase the facility her children have attended for the past two years.

She initially learned of the abuse allegations on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, her first day as the new director.

She said Bratcher has not been allowed in the center during working hours since Jan. 2.

Gardner said since taking over the facility, she has worked to strengthen the safety requirements with her employees, including the sign-in and sign-out procedures.

She is also exploring installing security cameras throughout the facility.

Scouts  

Adam Husong, scoutmaster for the troop, said as of Friday evening, Bratcher had been placed on suspension with the organization.