Day-care Owner To Pay Damages In Assault Suit

December 09, 1990

A former Clarksville day-care operator, convicted in 1987 of sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl at her center, agreed to pay $2,916 to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the mother of another child who attended the facility.

Under the terms of the settlement, reached in Circuit Court on Nov. 27, Sandra A. Craig also will pay the woman's legal fees.

The mother of a young girl allegedly assaulted at the now-closed Craig's Country Preschool claimed in the suit that Craig negligently breached her duty to care for the child, which resulted in injury to the girl.

Craig was accused in 1986 of 53 counts of sexually and physically abusing children at her day-care center, located on Route 108, over the previous two years.

In the first of what were to be 13 trials -- one for each child allegedly abused -- Craig was convicted of crimes against a 6-year-old girl.

She was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. in September 1987.

In July 1989 the seven-member Maryland Court of Appeals -- the state's highest court -- ruled unanimously that Craig's Sixth Amendment right to confront her accusers was violated because four child witnesses were allowed to testify via closed-circuit television.

The court ruled that Kane should have interviewed the children, ages 4 to 7, in Craig's presence, rather than take the word of expert witnesses who said the children would have difficulty communicating from the witness stand.

Rejecting the Court of Appeal's approach in a decision last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that children who accuse an adult of abusing them do not have to face that adult in court at a criminal trial.

The court ordered the state Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to overturn Craig's conviction.

The Court of Appeals is to hear arguments in the case next month.

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