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What Legal Matters Can be Pursued When a Child is Assaulted or Molested at a Day Care Center?

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

Handcuffs - Criminal - Child AbuseIn Washington and other States, parents rely on day care center to provide a safe, clean, and healthy environment for their children during working hours.  Parents, with children in day care centers, should visit frequently and at odd times.  In other words, a parent should visit at different times of the day in order to see how the staff is supervising the children under their care.  The staff in the morning may be different than the staff in the afternoon.  Furthermore, if the day care center staff believes that a parent could walk in at any moment of the day, this may, in turn, make the day care center staff more attentive to the duties and responsibilities at hand.   For most children, day care centers, schools, and summer camps provide that certain educational environment that certainly contributes to the growth and happiness of a child.   Unfortunately, some child care providers use their position of trust and access to abuse and neglect the very children that they are responsible for supervising and protecting from harm.   Certainly, the good child care providers outnumber the bad ones; however, one bad child care provider who abused and neglects children is frankly one too many.  Day care centers should carefully screen all day care center employees with background checks that are not only completed by an electronic search but also follow up calls to work and personal references.  Once hired, day care center employees should be trained and supervised.
In Normandy Park, Washington, it was reported that a father walked in to the day care center facility only to see his daughter being what appeared to be molested by the day care center employee.  This turned an otherwise ordinary day into a nightmare for the parent and child.  The incident was reported to Washington State Child Protective Services.  The father, while at the facility to pick up his daughter at Kid’s Country Day Care, found his child and the man crouched behind a bookshelf.   This seemed quite suspicious and odd to the parent.  The day care center worker told the father that the worker and child were engaged in a mere tickle fight.  The father saw it as something quite different.  The day care center worker was charged with the serious crimes of child rape and was held in custody at the Kings County Jail under a $200,000 bail.   Like other criminal investigations and matters, it should be noted that the day care center worker will be entitled to representation by a Criminal Defense Attorney or the Public Defender’s Office.  Yes, we have a justice system in place that provides that Defendants are innocent until proven guilty by a jury of peers.  However, with an eyewitness to this incident and the suspicious position of the day care center and child, it will be difficult to provide a defense on this case.  Time will tell how the criminal case turns out.
If a child is molested or abused at a day care center, a parent may be able to bring a civil cause of action against the day care worker and the facility for negligence, abuse, and neglect.  The day care center’s liability for the actions of the day care worker will depend in part of the hiring process, the supervision of the worker, prior bad or suspicious acts of the day care center worker, and other factors.  Certainly, the day care center worker can be sued individually for his or her bad acts; however, from a  practical standpoint, there may not be much in the way of assets or insurance on the individual.   As such, when possible and supported by the facts, it makes sense to name the day care center as a defendant in matters of this nature.  You can read more about this story at 5 Year Old Molested at Washington Day Care Center.