A Grapevine family filed a lawsuit last week against a Southlake day care, a Euless daycare, and a former day care employee who is charged with sexual abuse, alleging their child was a victim of the abuse.
The parents are suing Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Southlake and school officials, claiming they failed to provide a safe environment for the children, including the victim. The parents are also suing Thaddeaus Davidson, who was arrested on charges of indecency with a child and sexual contact, for allegedly sexually abusing their child while he was working at the Southlake day care.
The lawsuit was filed in Dallas County.
A previous lawsuit was filed against the day care by a Roanoke family in November, accusing Carpe Diem of allowing Davidson, a suspected child molester, to be hired after he was fired from a Euless day care, Lionheart Children’s Academy, for the same reason. Davidson did not face criminal charges in Euless.
Defendants in the latest lawsuit are Davidson; Endeavor Carpe Diem; Lionheart Children’s Academy; and Marie Fetterman, Sarah Castaneda, Amelia Beall and Stan Dobbs, who have all worked for Lionheart Children’s Academy. Fetterman later worked at Carpe Diem and hired Davidson to work there, according to the lawsuits.
“The safety and well-being of our children should always be of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, in this case, a teacher at Carpe Diem Private Preschool has been arrested for inappropriate sexual acts towards a child. It has also been uncovered that the teacher had prior incidents of misconduct against children at another school before being hired at Carpe Diem. The family of the victim has filed a lawsuit against the offending teacher, the schools, and the school administrators for their acts and omissions related to the incident,” said Kelsey Russek, marketing director for Webster Law Firm, in a Friday email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Webster Law Firm represents the Grapevine family.
The Dallas County lawsuit states that Fetterman claims she interviewed and oversaw all hiring of staff at the Southlake school, including background and reference checks. Fetterman represented to parents and staff that she had worked with Davidson previously and that he was an award-winning employee and highly qualified to care for their children, the lawsuit says.
The parents, after moving to Grapevine, decided to enroll their child at Carpe Diem in May 2022. The child was 3 years old at the time.
Davidson was placed in small and unsupervised classrooms with multiple children, according to the lawsuit, which also states that Davidson was paired off with individual children, including the victim. Fetterman and Endeavor, which owns the Southlake school, allowed Davidson access to the victim from July 12 to Oct. 11, 2022, the lawsuit states.
Davidson sexually abused the child and his actions have caused severe and life-long damage, according to the lawsuit. Davidson is currently being criminally prosecuted for sexual abuse and was arrested in October. Only after he was arrested did Endeavor and Fetterman terminate Davidson’s employment, the lawsuit says.
Lionheart sent a letter to the families of its students on Oct. 17, 2022, admitting that two incidents of child abuse by Davidson were brought to the attention of their employee and academy director, Castaneda, as far back as 2021, the lawsuit states. Castaneda and Lionheart failed to notify the appropriate authorities, according to the suit.
Further, the lawsuit claims Castaneda and Lionheart failed to document the child abuse allegations internally or mention the allegations in their references for Davidson. Castaneda was terminated from Lionheart for covering up these abuse allegations after Davidson was arrested, according to the suit.
“Lionheart and Castaneda’s failure to take appropriate action after receiving the initial child abuse allegations pertaining to Davidson, their employee at the time, directly caused Plaintiffs’ injuries and damages,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit accuses Lionheart, Castaneda, Beall and Dobbs of negligence that caused injury and damages to the family.
The parents are seeking $100 million in damages.
Officials at Lionheart and Carpe Diem have previously declined comment on pending litigation.