The entire Baldwin Park community has been rocked by news that the community’s prominent day care facility, Bright Horizons, has fired an employee over child sexual abuse allegations. This news hits particularly close to home for us at Cullen & Hemphill, PLC, as several of our employees live in the Baldwin Park community.
The Clickorlando.com (local Channel 6) website is reporting that the Florida Dept. of Children and Families came to the facility to make them aware that a child had come forward complaining of being sexually abused. (The parents of this child should be commended. This is the very first piece of advice we give to parents when they find out that their child has been sexually abused. To learn more about this, watch this short video.) In addition to the child that initially came forward, DCF has apparently interviewed two other children. This is not surprising, as – in our experience handling Florida child sexual abuse cases — it is unusual for pedophiles or child sex abusers to have only one victim.
Apparently, Bright Horizons has recently been warned by the State of Florida about not checking the background of its employees every five years. Interestingly, Channel 6’s reporter, Troy Campbell, was able to research the accused perpetrator and found that he or she (the accused perpetrator’s name has not been released) has a criminal record in Virginia from as recently as 2013.
It will be interesting to find out more about this child care worker, and why this worker was hired — even though the crime from Virginia, admittedly, does not seem to involve child abuse. Day care centers are not obligated to hire anyone, and can easily choose to deny employment to someone with any kind of criminal record.
Of course, child-centered organizations have obligations to children beyond background checks. Anytime an adult is placed in regular contact with a child by a child-centered organization like a school, sports team, or day care, the organization still has a duty to supervise and monitor the interactions between the adult and the child. If the alleged acts of child abuse occurred on the premises of Bright Horizons, it it difficult to imagine how proper supervision could have been happening.
As always in these cases, the most important thing for any child victim is to begin receiving specific sexual abuse counseling as soon as possible.
If you have any questions regarding a case of child sexual abuse anywhere in Florida, call Winter Park attorneys Kim Cullen or Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.