Columbia Falls Man Charged With Sexually Abusing Girls at Daycare

By Beacon Staff

A 48-year-old Columbia Falls daycare worker has been charged with sexually abusing two 5-year-old girls who were in his care.

Pete Ampudia was charged Monday with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual assault, all felonies. He appeared in Flathead County Justice Court on Tuesday, where his bail was set at $100,000.

Prosecutors say Ampudia inappropriately touched the girls, who attended the Little Engine That Could daycare center between April 2003 and April 2008.

Ampudia’s wife has operated the center from the couple’s home since the late 1990s, but Ampudia has worked there for only the last few years. He was involved in the day-to-day operation of the facility during that time.

Both girls mentioned the alleged abuse to their mothers, who notified the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.

Ampudia, who’s accused of molesting the girls during or immediately after nap times, maintains his innocence.

“He’s completely devastated by this,” said his attorney, Julianne Hinchey. She added that she expects the case to go to trial.

Ampudia is scheduled for arraignment Aug. 28. If convicted, he faces up to 400 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.

The sheriff’s office said the abuse charges arose after a four-month investigation.