SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - A 20-year-old Cleveland Heights man appeared in court Tuesday on a rape charge.
The alleged crime happened two weeks ago at the day-care center of First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland in Shaker Heights where Michael Ferricci worked, according to Shaker Heights police reports obtained by Cleveland 19 News.
Ferricci has since been fired.
During Tuesday's arraignment, Ferricci's bond was lowered from $1 million to $250,000.
Reporter Sara Goldenberg caught up with Ferricci as his parents bailed him out of jail and a family member said that police made a mistake.
He's been officially charged with one count of raping a minor. His case has been bound over to a grand jury.
Ferricci did not respond for a request for a comment Tuesday.
Following Ferricci's arrest, the director of the Children's Center of First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland released this statement:
"Last week we learned an employee, Michael Ferricci, was arrested by Shaker Heights Police following allegations of inappropriate physical contact with a child in our care. Police have informed us that Mr. Ferricci will be charged with rape. The case will go to the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury.
We are devastated by this horrible news. We are appalled that one of our employees may have taken advantage of his position to harm a vulnerable child. We have spoken with the child's parents and we will do everything we can to support the family during this time.
Mr. Ferricci has been a full time employee at the Children's Center since January of this year, and held part time and volunteer positions for the past five years. Like all of our employees he underwent a thorough background check conducted by the FBI and the Ohio BCI. The background check did not indicate any concerns.
Police first informed us of the allegations on June 28, after they were contacted by child's parents, and we immediately suspended the employee. Upon learning of his arrest on July 7th, we terminated his employment. Because this matter is now in the hands of the authorities, we are not able to discuss the details of the allegations. We are continuing to cooperate fully with the investigation, and we have reached out to parents and guardians to reassure them that we are doing everything we can to make sure their children are safe at the Children's Center.
Counselors from Rape Crisis Center have attended meetings we have held with parents and staff to answer questions and to help us all cope with this terrible news. The safety of every child in our care is of the utmost importance, and we are carefully reviewing our policies and procedures in light of this incident to make sure we are doing everything possible to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all children in our care.
Cleveland 19 will continue to monitor this story.
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