Parents of toddler raped at day care sue for negligence

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 29, 2012 

The parents of a toddler raped by a Richland day care worker last year are suing Kid's World, alleging the center was negligently managed, supervised and operated.

Kennewick attorney Jay Flynn, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Benton County Superior Court, said the boy's parents want to make sure other parents know these kinds of things can happen.

"They'll be aware of complaints by their children and keep track of what's going on," Flynn told the Herald on Friday. "They're hoping this will bring to light people having concerns or wondering if something is going on, and that they will be diligent about checking."

The lawsuit names as defendants: Kid's World Childcare; Joi Caulfield, director of the Richland center where the boy was sexually assaulted; and Ginger Still, executive director of Kid's World.

Kid's World Childcare has three Tri-City locations.

Still, who was reached by the Herald at the West Richland center, said she didn't know about the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it.

"I don't even know what they're claiming," she said Friday.

The filing comes three weeks after a criminal case involving the Kid's World employee wrapped up.

The parents are not named in the lawsuit because it involved the sexual assault of a child. A guardian ad litem has been appointed to oversee the child's best interests.

The complaint states the 2-year-old, who lives in Hermiston with his parents, began going to the Kid's World on Comstock Street in March 2011, and quit attending around Aug. 25, 2011, when the rape was disclosed.

Lucas Anthony Miller, 22, was convicted of first-degree rape of a child and was sentenced earlier this month to a minimum of seven years and nine months in prison. His ultimate release will be determined by a state board.

Miller apologized during his sentencing for his actions and said he was trying to understand what made him do "such a terrible thing."

He told a state Department of Corrections staff member that he assaulted the boy while changing his diaper because he was frustrated and angry with work and life. He claimed he was not properly trained and resorted to violence to try to teach the boy.

The lawsuit alleges Miller had been formally written up by Kid's World managers for at least two incidents of "inappropriate frustration" with children before Aug. 19, 2011.

Former employees also expressed concerns about Miller to Caulfield and Still, court documents said.

"There were concerns about the way he was treating the kids," Flynn said. "People in charge of it knew of (the) complaints about his treatment of the kids and they had talked to him about it but were not addressing it."

Flynn said that when Miller would get frustrated and act out, the managers would just say "you can't do that," but nothing else came from it.

During the sentencing, the toddler's mother read briefly from a written statement about the trauma her son has endured since the rape and how she felt she let her son down. She broke down crying and had to let the prosecutor continue reading her statement.

She said her son gets upset when they start driving toward the Tri-Cities and is afraid to go to preschool.

By law, no damage amount is listed. The lawsuit requests compensation for damages, attorney's fees and costs and other relief deemed "just and equitable" by the court.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service