MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida mother says her daughter was sexually and physically abused by three boys at a Hollywood Pre-school. Monday her attorney filed a lawsuit against the facility on Monday, saying its employees were negligent.
Attorney Jeffrey Herman filed the lawsuit on behalf of the girl and her mother against Academics and U Pre-School in the 2400 block of Sheridan Street.
“When I picked up my child she told me these boys touched her and urinated on her,” said the mother, whose name CBS4 is not revealing in order to protect the identity of her and her child.
“And to have something like this happen here,” she said as she fought back tears, “is the worst thing that happened in my life. I can’t believe people like this let this happen to my child and made like it never happened and then tried to cover it up. These people need to pay for what they did.”
At a news conference right next to Academics and U Pre-School, the mother said her daughter was abused March 29th during an aftercare program at the facility. She said she immediately called police and reported abuse.
According to a police report obtained by CBS4, the mother and her daughter both initially told Police that she was touched inappropriately by one child of pre-school age, who had followed her in to the bathroom and then also urinated on her.
Hollywood Police investigated and then forwarded the case to the Department of Children and Families. A police spokesman said investigators saw “nothing to warrant moving ahead on this case criminally.”
“They basically told me the boy was too young to go to jail,” the mother said.
DCF issued a statement about the alleged incident saying:
“Child protective investigators with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation, working with Broward County Child Care Licensing and Enforcement. As a result, the preschool was cited for failing to comply with adequate ratios of adult supervisors to children and must provide additional training of its staff.”
But attorney Herman said police did not know the full story.
Under further questioning, he said the child told her mother that she had been assaulted by two other boys as well, including one child who was nine-years-old.
“My child is petrified to go to the bathroom,” said the mother. She told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that, “She cries at night and she has nightmares. I brought my child here and I thought my child would be watched over by other people and would be safe.”
Herman said the child’s “behavior had become regressive as a result of this experience. She crawls and talks baby talk and is afraid to go to the bathroom.”
“It’s a horrible, horrible assault,” said Herman. “It was abusive on all levels. The daycare was not watching over kids. It’s not just a matter of safety. It’s required by law.”
Herman’s lawsuit said the facility failed to adequately train its staff to detect and prevent sexual abuse.
The lawsuit said the facility also failed to directly supervise its children at all times, which is required by the Florida Administrative code.
The Pre-school’s manager disputes the allegations.
“I don’t think this has happened,” said manager Cesar Alvarez. “I don’t see babies harassing or sexually abusing another baby. From my point of view, I don’t see that. I don’t see any proof. I haven’t seen anything. People look for money every day.”
Alvarez said he thought the mother had also sued another daycare or pre-school facility.
But the mother denied that allegation. She said she had filed a complaint against a previous facility that her daughter had attended because she was bitten by someone at that facility. But no lawsuit was filed.
Academics and U Pre-School has been in business since 1986.