MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami-Dade County jury has awarded $3 million to a nine-year-old girl who was sexually abused as a preschooler at Discovery Day Care in Miami in 2008.
The alleged abuse took place in the nap room at the Discovery Day Care at 3153 SW 67th Avenue in Miami.
The attorney for the girl said the daycare director’s teenage son sexually abused her on multiple occasions when he was left alone, unsupervised, with the children.
The girl’s mother, who did not wish to be identified in this report, said it has been very difficult for her family but she’s glad that justice prevailed.
“She wants to let everyone know that she feels better now than before,” said of the attorney’s employee, who was reading a statement on behalf of the mother. “This has been very difficult for her, her daughter, her family. She’s very glad justice has prevailed.”
“We leave our kids in day cares thinking they will be safe and cared for, but that is not always the case,” said the woman reading the statement for the mother. “She wants everyone to know that however much time passes, justice will come through.”
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke with Don Hardeman, an attorney for the Discovery Daycare, who said he would appeal the verdict.
“I am going to file a motion for a new trial and if that fails I will take this to the 3rd District Court of Appeals,” said Hardeman. “The $3 million verdict is too high. The attorneys for the victim failed to show that there was permanent damage to the victim in terms of the pain and injuries that she suffered.”
Attorneys for the victim disagree.
“What’s happening now is that when the little girl looks into the mirror, she is reminded that someone could be behind her. And she sees monsters in the mirror and one monster is the perpetrator. So her parents have to cover the mirror with a towel so that she does not look in the mirror and see herself,” said attorney Jeffrey Herman. “This kind of abuse has a lifetime impact on a little girl.”
“Parents have to be able to trust a daycare to follow safety rules to protect children,” said Herman. “There’s a special law involving naptime for children and teachers and how they have to be close to children and that was not followed. Another safety rule involves children of employees at day care centers and they didn’t follow these rules. This is as bad as it gets.”
Herman said this case is “vindication for the victim. It validates her. She is a survivor.”
“To have that type of trust violated is a parent’s worst nightmare,” said attorney Adam Horowitz.
According to the lawsuit, the teen, who should have been at his own school during the alleged incidents, sexually abused the girl, who was five years old at the time, on at least 10 occasions. Among the abuse reported was forcing the girl to perform oral sex on him and inappropriate touching.
He was 13 at the time and in February of 2009, pleaded no contest to two counts of juvenile sexual battery in the case. He was sentenced to Juvenile Sexual Offender Treatment and was ordered to stay away from the child, her home and the Day Care.
Herman said the girl and her mother have moved to Michigan because of what happened.
Herman and his fellow attorneys said there is another case involving a female classmate of the girl who said she too was molested by the director’s son. They plan to take that case to trial as well.