ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A lawsuit has been filed against Bright Horizons Children’s Centers for not stopping a teacher from sexually abusing a 3-year-old, a lawyer said.
Attorney Jeff Herman filed the lawsuit on the victim's family behalf Tuesday.
Herman said the teacher sexually abused the child at the preschool center in Baldwin Park at 1700 Firehouse Lane in Orlando.
“It’s a tough one for these parents, because these parents noticed behavioral changes in their children, and they weren’t sure what was causing them,” Herman said.
Herman accused Bright Horizons Children’s Center of knowing about the teacher's attraction to young boys and doing nothing to stop it.
The teacher was hired by Bright Horizons Children’s Center in 2016, Herman said.
The lawyer also alleged the center was alerted about the teacher's behavior and that he had the potential to sexually abuse children, but that the center hired him anyway. The lawyer said a teacher assigned to the accused suspect's classroom raised concerns to the center’s director that the teacher was “grooming” a male student for sexual abuse. The grooming involved children sitting on the teacher's lap, between his legs, and the teacher had his hands on children’s chests and waists, Herman said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families began investigating Bright Horizons at Baldwin Park in May after allegations that the teacher abused another child, the lawyer said.
The teacher was fired in May, a spokesperson for Bright Horizons said.
The lawyer has also accused Bright Horizons of having a policy of paying for criminal and civil defense attorneys for teachers who are accused of sexually abusing students at its schools, Herman said. The attorney said that demonstrates a scheme of protecting itself and accused pedophiles.
Bright Horizons released a statement Thursday afternoon: "We have been working closely with DCF on a situation that was reported to us in May and have been fully supporting DCF in that investigation.
"We have been communicating with families at the center throughout this process.
"We have not received the legal complaint that was shared with the news media today and have not been told by any family about the concerns referenced. Neither DCF nor the police have contacted us about this either.
"These are very serious allegations, and if the police or DCF do investigate them, of course we will support their efforts fully. Nothing is more important than getting to the truth for any children involved and their families."
The Orlando Police Department and the Department of Children and Families are investigating the incident. No one has been charged, so Eyewitness News will not release the teacher's name.
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