A 4-year-old Palo Alto child was allegedly molested Tuesday by a Barron Park preschool teacher, who was arrested hours after the incident.
The teacher, a nine-year employee of Palo Alto Community Child Care, was arrested Wednesday on one count of child molestation.
The suspect is 35-year-old David Eric Carlson of San Jose. He allegedly assaulted the child at the day-care facility, which is located at 800 Barron Ave. at Barron Park School. Carlson is the center's assistant director and was previously co-director at PACCC's Duveneck Kids Club at Duveneck School in Crescent Park.
Carlson, who was booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail, was expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Palo Alto. Bail has been set at $1 million.
PACCC, which is not affiliated with the Palo Alto Unified School District, has three portable classrooms at Barron Park School.
Palo Alto police are not releasing any information about the 4-year-old to protect the identity of the victim, who is a student at the preschool/day care program. Although police did say the incident occurred Tuesday afternoon at the school and was reported to police late Tuesday evening.
Police obtained a search warrant for Carlson's home and discovered enough information to make an arrest.
PACCC Executive Director Margo Dutton said the arrest "does trigger for us to look at all of our processes, to make sure it works as designed to keep the children safe and our staff safe."
Dutton said she and other PACCC officials and staff are not privy to the information police have gathered, but are cooperating fully with the investigation. She said Carlson was arrested Wednesday afternoon after the children had left the preschool.
Parents of Barron Park elementary school students -- who have no direct connection to the preschool program -- were saddened by the news and mulled over what little information was available Thursday.
"I'm scared, only because my son goes here," said Angie Banks, the mother of 6-year-old Angel and 11-month-old Cyan. She planned to talk with her son about the investigation and remind him how to react to unwanted attention from adults. "We just want to refresh his memory," Banks said.
One father, who declined to be named, said he wanted to see efforts stepped up to escort children between portable buildings at the school as they change activities. "It needs to be refined," he said.
While horrified by the news, some parents stressed they hoped the investigation would be adequately thorough.
"If he's innocent, this will follow him for the rest of his life," said parent Jennifer Steck.
Police spokesman Jim Coffman said that not only is this tragic for the victim and the victim's family, it is a tragic time for everyone who has ever had contact with Carlson. This is something that affects the entire community, he said.
"The problem with pedophiles is that they don't stop at just one. But we're hoping this is the first time this guy has done this," he said.
Coffman stressed the importance of parents talking to their children. "It was the parent-child relationship that opened up this case for us. If parents are sending a child out into the world, even if it's a day-care facility, they need to have the 'good touch, bad touch' talk with them. Of course, it has to be age-appropriate," he said.
Coffman said police are still investigating the incident. He emphasized that PACCC is a good organization and that it is required by law to do background checks on all of its employees. "I can't ever recall a problem before at PACCC," he said.
Police are urging anyone who has information about David Carlson to call Detective Natasha Powers at (650)329-2569.
Weekly staff writer Pam Sturner contributed to this report. E-mail Daryl Savage at firstname.lastname@example.org