Filing a Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse of a Child at Daycare

by Adam Horowitz

childcareblocksOur attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving sexual abuse of children at a daycare. Nothing can prepare a parent for the moment they learn their child was sexually abused. It must be a terrible and confusing time. Our team of legal professionals can help through you this predicament.

Sexual abuse of children in daycare center and pre-schools has received considerable attention in the past decade. Extensive research on the behavioral patterns of sexual predators has shown that they gravitate toward positions where they will have an opportunity to gain trust and be alone with children. The daycare setting provides an opportune environment for a predator to be alone with young children, all of whom are reliant on their guidance. Please be sure to check references and tour a daycare facility before enrolling your child. In addition, the state inspection reports on daycare facilities are public records in most states. Once your child enrolled, familarize yourself with all personnel who are supervising your children. No unlicensed employees or minors shoud be watching your children.

The nature of sexual abuse in daycare poses unique legal challenges for the families of victims as well as the court system. Cases of sexual abuse in daycare typically involve multiple victims, and may involve the use of threats to prevent disclosure. Even in the absence of threats, children of a pre-school age tend to be reluctant to disclose their sexual abuse and prefer to keep it a secret. Of course, the secret protects only the perpetrator and not the child. There is often a delayed disclosure by the child victim for a variety of reasons, including embarassment, guilt, shame, and the fear of not being believed or not wanting to get an adult authority figure in trouble. If your child makes a disclosure concerning sexual abuse at a daycare or pre-school, you should not be angered that the child did not make an immediate disclosure. It would be hard to conceive of a more confusing experience for a child than being sexually abused at a trusted location such as daycare or pre-school. Instead, support your child and take steps to ensure that your discloses the abuse to either a forensic interviewer, law enforcement, or mental health counselor who is trained to create a nuturing environment for the child and obtain the facts in a reliable manner without the use of leading questions.

The filing of a lawsuit following an incident of sexual abuse at a daycare or pre-school can be a milestone step in the healing process for a child victim and family. Of course, it provides an opportunity to obtain compensation to pay for counseling for the child who experienced a trauma. But perhaps most importantly, the lawsuit provides a forum to publicly stand up for your child and expose the daycare operator and predator for the wrongdoing and to hold accountable anyone whose negligence allowed this heinous act to occur. By exposing the daycare and holding other parties accountable through a lawsuit along with reporting the claim to law enforcement, you can alert the public to this predator and prevent others from having to endure the same trauma. At the same time, if there is a daycare operator who has ignored complaints of sexual assault or other red flags, there is no better way to cause them to reform their business practices than through litigation due to the threat of significant liability and the possibility they will lose their professional license.

There are a multitude of legal theories available when a child has been sexually abused in a daycare by an employee, volunteer, visitor, or another child at a daycare. First, if the daycare owner knows or has had any reason to know of the perpetrator’s history of prior sexual misconduct or boundary issues with a child, the employer can be sued for Negligence. A Negligent Hiring claim may be brought if the daycare knew or should have known that the perpetrator was unfit for his duties in the daycare at the time he was hired. A Negligent Retention or Negligent Supervision claim is available if the daycare knew or should have known that the perpetrator was unfit for his duties after he was employed, yet they continued to employ this person and place children at risk for harm. A negligent supervision theory also applies to volunteers or in situations where a child in the daycare has a history of acting out sexually with other children but the daycare fails to take precautionary measures.

A daycare can also be held liable under a variety of other negligence theories depending on the facts of the case.  For instance, if the abuse was commited when the daycare was not adhering to proper adult-child ratio or if the abuse was committed by an unlicensed visitor while the children were supposed to be directly supervised by trained adults, this would consitute negligence. Alternatively, if the daycare allowed multiple children to go the bathroom together with no supervision this may constitute negligence. If the daycare has generalized knowledge that incidents of sexual abuse are occurring at the business or is mixing children of different ages, this may also be negligent conduct.

If your child or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse at a daycare or pre-school, contact our law firm at (954) 524-2820 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]