BILLINGS — Protesters gathered outside a Billings West End daycare Monday, calling for the business to be shut down after an employee was charged with felony sexual assault of a 3-year-old who attended the daycare.
Luis Contreras, 51, pleaded not guilty Friday in Yellowstone County District Court on one count of felony sexual assault. Court documents list Contreras as an employee at the daycare since 2016.
On March 16, a Billings Police Officer responded to a sexual assault complaint at the daycare's location, according to documents. An adult male said his daughter, S., had asked him to tickle her under her diaper. When he explained no one should be tickling her there, she replied, "Luis tickled her there."
BPD Detective Miller interviewed Contreras on March 30. Contreras claimed the accusation was a misunderstanding and that he was checking to see if S. had a dirty or wet diaper by feeling the outside of it.
During his investigation, Detective Miller learned Contreras had been investigated by the Billings Police Department before regarding his conduct at the daycare. In 2020, a different child Z. (born October 2012) said Contreras touched her vagina while she was in respite care at the daycare. Z did not remember the defendant's name but identified him by his tattoos and complexion, according to the documents.
Some protesters, including members of Contreras' family, said it's just the latest in a long string of complaints involving Contreras and the daycare’s owner, Kim Redding.
"Five years ago, we tried to convict him of molesting my youngest niece," Desiree Contreras-Sutton said. "She was 13 at the time. She was the first to come forward."
Contreras-Sutton said the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office advised the family it did not have enough evidence to pursue charges.
"There was a lot of physical abuse in my relationship with him growing up," said Adrianna Contreras, one of Luis' daughters. "When I found out what he did, it didn’t surprise me."
Adrianna said time spent with Contreras and Redding at Kids 'R' Us, another daycare Redding owned in the Billings Heights, was a nightmare.
"I used to live in that house part-time, me and my little sister," Adrianna said. "He would pull (the kids') hair, or he'd get mad at them for crying and hit them."
Kids 'R' Us came under fire in November 2018 when a six-month old was left alone in the building after the staff left had left. The baby’s mother showed up soon after and was let in by the daycare director. The baby was okay.
Four years later, Redding is still operating at her West End location, and Adrianna believes the physical abuse has continued.
"My daughter got a broken arm there," said Chris Ness. "Luis was the one that broke her arm - he said that he fell on her or something. After that, Adrianna had reached out to me and said, 'Pull her from there because he did a lot of bad things to us.'"
Ness’ daughter attended the daycare in 2021 and 2022. He eventually pulled her out of the facility because of concerns about Contreras. But the group believes Redding isn’t innocent.
"In my opinion, there’s no way that she couldn’t have known," Adrianna said. "There were a lof of things that she saw and didn't do anything about."
We reached out to Redding via phone calls and emails. She returned them late Monday night saying she couldn't comment about Contreras on advice of his attorney, but that he has been licensed by the state to work in a childcare facility each year since 2016. She also disputed any allegations of abuse within her daycares by Adrianna.
"That's just not true. My parents back me and are still with me at the daycare," Redding said.
"I can’t believe (the daycare) hasn’t been shut down," Contreras-Sutton responded. "Sexual assault against children, and this daycare is still open. There are still children that are there."
We attempted to contact the Montana Department of Health and Human Services which oversees childcare licensing but have not heard back.
Contreras was released after posting a $50,000 bond and is forbidden from contact with minors or anywhere minors gather. According to court documents, he told investigators this was all a misunderstanding and he was just checking to see if a child’s diaper was wet and needed changing.
None of that is enough for Adrianna.
"It's scary because I have a daughter now," she said, "and she’s young enough where she's in his frame of what he likes I guess, so it’s hard because I don’t know where he’s at."
Contreras was back in court Monday on a separate felony charge of assault with a weapon, stemming from an incident May 6 at a trailer court on 1926 Mullowney Lane. He pleaded not guilty and was released on an additional $25,000 bond. Dates for his next court appearances had not been set as of Monday.