A Montgomery County day-care teacher has been charged with sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl who was in his care, authorities said Wednesday.

Michael Barbee, 32, worked as a teacher at the Early Learning Center Program of St. Francis Parish, on Hamilton Street in Norristown.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Norristown police on Feb. 8 received a report that Barbee assaulted the girl with his finger and covered her mouth while they were in his classroom. The girl complained of pain.

 Norristown Police
Michael Barbee

Barbee, of Yeadon, went to the Norristown Police Department on Friday and eventually admitted forcibly touching the girl on Feb. 7, the affidavit says. According to his statement, he told police he did so after the girl called him "stupid." He said he went to her cot during nap time and assaulted her, the affidavit says.

Barbee was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, and related offenses.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a statement that Barbee was placed on administrative leave Friday after officials learned of the criminal investigation. Barbee's employment was terminated Monday after the parish learned of his arrest, the archdiocese said.

Kenneth Gavin, spokesman for the archdiocese, said families with children in the Early Learning Center Program and in the parish school had been notified about Barbee. The day care is located in a building separate from the parish school, and Barbee had no duties in the parish school building, Gavin said.

"These charges are serious and disturbing," Gavin said, adding that the archdiocese was cooperating with law enforcement.

"There were no prior indications that Mr. Barbee was involved in activity of this nature," Gavin said. "Prior to beginning his term of employment with St. Francis of Assisi Parish, appropriate criminal background checks as well as child-abuse clearances had been obtained and he completed mandatory Safe Environment Training programs."

Barbee is in custody at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility on $750,000 bail and faces a Wednesday preliminary hearing.

Police asked anyone with further information about Barbee to contact the Norristown Police Department's Detectives Division at 610-270-0977. Anyone in need of victim services can also contact the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780.