In the United States, cases of child sexual abuse are not restricted to family settings. Many extra-family contexts provide the perfect ground for child sex abusers to take advantage of innocent children. Many parents leave their children at daycares, believing that they are safe there. However, cases of sexual child abuse have become prevalent even in the daycares. Cases of sexual child abuse in daycare centers gained popularity in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.

Many daycare providers faced child abuse cases for different forms of abuse, including subjecting children to satanic rituals. Daycare abuse remains a significant threat to small children even if the initial hysteria surrounding the subject has subsided. If your child suffers sexual abuse in a daycare center, you should contact an experienced attorney to help you file civil charges against the abuser and the daycare provider. The Sex Crimes Attorney provides vigorous legal representation for children who suffer abuse in daycare centers throughout California.

Sex Predators Target Children In Daycare Centers

Many sex predators target small children in daycares for several reasons. First, children are innocent and vulnerable. They depend on other people to fulfill their basic needs. Unlike adults, children do not have the emotional or mental capacity to make independent decisions. These factors give adults power over children. Adults can use this power to manipulate the children’s actions and emotions, subjecting them to continuous abuse.

Daycares also expose children to higher risk than home settings. Many abusers target daycares because they give them easy access to the children. You should take immediate action if you suspect that your child is facing abuse in a daycare center. Taking quick action will prevent continued abuse and stop the terrible acts from recurring. You should contact a renowned law firm with the necessary resources to make the perpetrators accountable for their actions. Most child abusers end up in jail, where they can no longer access your child or other children.

An attorney will also help you file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your child's injuries or damages due to the abuse. The settlement will include compensation for any long-term mental effects of the sexual abuse on the child.

Past Incidences Of Daycare Sexual Abuse

Recent research revealed that in 2019, there was a total of 5321 cases of child abuse and neglect in daycare centers across 39 states in the U.S. Out of these 5321 cases, around half of them involved child neglect, 14% of the cases involved physical abuse, and about 22% of the cases involved sexual abuse. A 22% of the sexual cases are relatively high than the overall average of 8% child abuse cases in all contexts. This study revealed that in 2019, there were around 1,171 cases of child sexual abuse in daycare centers.

Below are some of the high-profile cases of child sexual abuse in daycare centers across the United States:

Country Walk Babysitting Service

Frank Fuster and Ileana Flores owned the Country Walk daycare. The daycare was located in Miami, Florida. Fuster had prior convictions: in 1969, he faced a manslaughter conviction, and he was convicted of fondling a nine-year-old minor in 1981. Fuster faced charges and was convicted of 14 cases of child sexual abuse in 1985.

Children who attended the daycare also confessed that Fuster, together with his wife, made them take part in satanic rituals. The children revealed that Fuster terrorized them by making them watch as he mutilated birds. Ileana, Fuster's wife, confessed to her husband’s actions but later recalled the confession claiming that she was subjected to torture to confess. Fuster was sentenced to an imprisonment of 165 years in prison. He remains in jail to date.

McMartin Preschool

McMartin Preschool was located in Manhattan Beach, California. In 1983, a mother of a child in the school reported that a teacher, Ray Buckey, sodomized her little boy. The abuser was the son of the administrator, Peggy Buckey. After this incident, many more victims (350 present and past enrollees) accused the school of abusing them. The children confessed that they were subjected to rituals like cannibalism, blood-drinking, and infant sacrifice while at the institution.

After a lengthy trial, Peggy Buckey was acquitted of all the charges, while Ray was acquitted on all charges against him except 13 charges. Ray was retried on 8 of these charges, but eventually, all the charges were dropped due to a mistrial.

San Bernardino

Humberto Escobar, a daycare worker, faced child sexual abuse charges and was arrested in 2016. He committed the crime while working at the Escobar Family Child Care, located in Hesperia, California. Escobar faced charges for penetrating a child in the genitals using a foreign object. The child was below ten years.

Oakhill Satanic Ritual Charges

Fan and Dan Keller faced charges in 1991 for sexually assaulting several children and making them watch as they killed and dismembered animals. The couple also sexually abused a 3-year old girl, which made them be subjected to 48 years in prison. However, in 2013, this sentencing was overturned when an emergency room physician who had provided crucial evidence pointed out that he had made an error when issuing the medical testimony.

Bernard Baran

Bernard Baran faced charges for sexually molesting a boy in 1984 at a child development center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. These parents tried to have Baran fired from his job due to homosexuality. As a result, Baran was convicted and imprisoned. However, in 2010, Baran was freed from prison after being granted a new trial on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct in the initial trial.

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

The victim needs to understand what constitutes sexual abuse to know if they are experiencing it or if they experienced sexual abuse in the past. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any attempted or completed sexual act, sexual contact, or exploitation of a child is a form of sexual abuse. According to the APSAC (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), child sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child incapable of giving consent. Any form of sexual contact between a child and an adult qualifies as child sexual abuse irrespective of whether the adult deceived the child or the child understood the nature of the sexual act. A minor is not capable of giving consent according to the law.

Some of the common forms of physical contact that qualifies as child sexual abuse include:

  • Any direct sexual contact with the child, including vaginal, oral, or anal penetration

  • Fondling

  • Forcing a minor to masturbate

  • Using or featuring children in pornographic materials

You should note that child sexual abuse is not restricted to physical contact with a child. The following could also qualify as child sexual abuse:

  • Exhibitionism or exposing your body to a minor

  • Masturbating while a child is watching you

  • Making obscene phone calls or sending suggestive text messages to a child

  • Subjecting a minor to psychological pressure to make them engage in a sexual activity

The abuser does not need to have used force or violence to face child sexual abuse charges. Many perpetrators of child abuse use manipulation to win the child’s trust and conceal the abuse.

The Signs Of Sexual Child Abuse

Usually, it is difficult to know whether you were abused as a child because you could have forgotten the abuse. You are more likely to remember the abuse if it happened over a considerable period. However, if you were a victim of an isolated case of abuse, you will not remember it as an adult. After an abuse, many children try to escape from the incident by blocking the memory and putting the incident at the back of their heads. The child does not have to think about the traumatic incident by doing this. However, at some point in your life as an adult, the incident could manifest in your life. You could also unearth the repressed memories if you seek professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist.

Parents should be alert to recognize the common warning signs and indicators that your child could be facing sexual abuse or exploitation:

  • A child facing abuse could portray withdrawal, extreme mood swings, changes in behavior, and excessive crying

  • The child could exhibit a fear of certain places, people, or activities and intense fear of going to the daycare center.

  • Parents could notice intense nightmares, bed-wetting, fear of sleeping alone or going to bed, and other forms of sleep disturbances.

  • The child could engage in sexual activity or display an unusual interest in sexual matters.

  • Physical signs of abuse include bleeding, itching, pain, fluid, or rawness in the child's sexual parts.

  • The child could regress to infantile behavior like clinging

  • You could notice a change in the child’s toilet training habits

  • Other signs of abuse include rebellious behavior like aggressiveness and sudden acting out of feelings

Sexual Abuse Has Long-term Effects On Children

The role of daycare is to protect children while helping them grow and develop in a safe environment. Experiencing sexual abuse as a child could have long-term effects on a person. Some of these effects could last for a lifetime. The typical long-term effects of child sexual abuse are:

  • Negative or low self-esteem

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Eating and sleeping disorders

  • An increased risk of committing suicide

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly abbreviated as PTSD

  • Substance abuse

You should immediately consult a sex attorney when your child discloses an act of sexual abuse. Many states in the U.S, California included, have child protection agencies whose mandate is to investigate child abuse and neglect cases. States also have reporting statutes for cases of child abuse. These statutes outline individuals who are mandated to report cases of child sex abuse. They also outline individuals to whom reports of child sexual abuse should be made. The statutes also outline the form and contents of the report.

Some of the people who are mandated to report incidents of child sexual abuse include social workers, daycare staff, police officers, other workers in daycare facilities. Circumstances of child abuse that require to be reported could vary from state to state. The reporter should report the confirmed child abuse cases and the suspected ones. Reporters should have a valid reason to believe that a child has been subjected to sexual abuse. Many states in the U.S provide a toll-free phone number that you can use to report instances of child abuse and neglect.

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse In Daycare Centers

You can take several steps to prevent child sexual abuse in daycare centers. First, before you take your child to a daycare center, you should ensure that you properly vet the center. It would be best if you did not choose the first daycare center that you come across. Instead, you should visit several centers, interrogate the staff and observe the interactions between the daycare staff and the children.

Ensure that you understand the daycare’s hiring and supervision policy. Daycare workers should have a genuine concern for the children’s welfare. They should also appear happy and at ease while interacting with the children. While vetting different daycare centers, consider the references. For example, you can contact the social services department or the local police department to see if any complaints have been filed against the daycare center.

It would be best if you only worked with a daycare center that is licensed. Ensure that the daycare center has a good hiring policy. A reliable daycare center should run background checks on their employees to avoid hiring people with criminal histories. A great way of learning how a daycare center operates is by involving yourself with the center's activities. For instance, you can volunteer in the center's activities to get a first-hand experience of how the center operates. Below are other tips that can help you choose the right daycare center:

  • Ensure that parents have no limited access to the daycare center. Parents should be free to pop in at any time without calling first. Daycare facilities with limited parental access are likely to be more prone to child sexual abuse.

  • While vetting the people who work at the daycare, you should not just vet the men. You should ensure that you vet the women too.

  • Check the daycare facilities, including bathrooms, to see areas where children can be isolated. Over 50% of daycare abuse happens during toileting.

  • Consider the daycare's child-to-staff ratio. Daycare centers with a higher child-to-staff ratio are riskier because the staff will be overwhelmed, making them less attentive and protective of the children.

  • Ensure that you understand whether other people besides the daycare staff will interact with the children. A significant percentage of child sexual abuse in daycare centers involves people not directly involved in providing childcare to the children. These people include janitors, drivers, and relatives of the daycare staff. Therefore, ensure that the daycare center limits the children's interaction with the outside vendors and non-staff members.

  • Ensure that you find out beforehand how the daycare center handles child discipline. Every day, ensure that you ask your child about how their day was.

What punishment methods does the daycare center use to handle child discipline?

Ensure that you find out if any incident made your child feel uncomfortable.

Give Proper Instructions To Your Child

In addition to vetting the daycare center where you take your child, you can also prevent abuse by giving proper instructions to your child. First, ensure that your child understands what they should do in a potentially tricky situation. Warning your child can help prevent abuse before it occurs. Below is some of the advice that you can give to your child:

  • Tell your child that they should not be alone with an adult in specific areas like the closet, bathroom, or office, especially if it makes the child feel uncomfortable.

  • Tell your child that they should never allow anyone to trick them into doing something they are uncomfortable with. They should not accept favors like gifts and candy to keep a secret or fail to disclose certain information.

  • A child should not allow anyone, including the daycare staff, to take a picture of them in a manner that makes them feel uncomfortable.

  • If any person ever asks your child to do something embarrassing, painful, or wrong, you should train your child to always say no.

  • Ensure that your child knows that they should never allow anyone to touch any of their body parts that are covered by a bathing suit.

The Role of A Child Abuse Lawyer

Many child sexual abuse victims in daycare centers do not disclose the abuse because they are scared of the abuser. Survivors of abuse could also conceal the abuse due to the mental anguish associated with the allegation process. Hiring a child sex abuse attorney can make the process of seeking justice much easier. Below are ways in which an attorney will assist:

  • The attorney will help you create strong evidence by producing and maintaining crucial documents, relevant photos, and other documents to ensure that you build a strong case against the abuser. In addition, documenting all the relevant evidence will help you get a favorable outcome against the abuser.

  • The investigation process in child abuse cases is usually daunting and intimidating. It involves making regular contact with the police, the abusers, and even the media. However, with the help of a sex crime attorney, you will not feel overwhelmed because the lawyer will help you through the process.

  • Your attorney will play a crucial role in helping you seek compensation for several damages associated with a child abuse case. Some of the damages you can recover are medical damages related to child abuse. You will also recover compensation for damages incurred in helping the child undergo emotional therapy to overcome the trauma from the abuse. Pain and suffering are associated with the abuse and the diminished quality of life. You can also recover compensation for emotional distress, including disorders like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)

  • Seeking the help of an attorney will help you increase the value of your claim. An attorney will help you identify all the negligent or liable parties. An attorney will help you determine if the sexual abuse occurred due to the negligent hiring of daycare staff. The attorney will go ahead to prove negligent hiring by finding out how the daycare center vets potential employees and whether they consider a potential employee's criminal history.

  • Especially if you have to deal with a person you once trusted, you can find it challenging to stand against an abuser. An attorney will keep the abuser from intimidating you and ask all the tough questions on your behalf.

  • In the aftermath of child sexual abuse, a lawyer will ensure that you don’t wait too long before filing a case against the daycare center or the abuser. Waiting too long before filing a case and failing to keep up with the statute of limitations could make you lose the chance of compensation.

  • You deserve to seek justice when your child is abused in a place that is meant to be safe for children. The sexual abuse of young boys and girls is a horrific experience, which has become too common in the United States and other parts of the world.

Compensation Available

In a daycare sexual abuse case, the victim or their parents can recover the following damages:

  • Medical Costs — This includes all the costs incurred in seeking treatment for the victim's injuries due to the abuse. It includes seeking counseling services and any form of therapy and medication required.

  • Emotional distress is compensation for the trauma and the long-term effects of the daycare sexual abuse. Many people who experience abuse in a daycare center have long-term problems like depression and anxiety disorder.

  • Pain And suffering — A victim can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering associated with the sexual abuse.

Find A Sex Crime Attorney Near Me

Victims of child sexual abuse and their parents do not have to go through seeking compensation all alone. Instead, they should seek the help of a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney who will be with them every step of the way. If you need reliable legal representation for a child sexual abuse case in California, we invite you to contact the Sex Crimes Attorney. Call us at 888-666-8480 and speak to one of our attorneys.