Harford Circuit Court Judge William O. Carr has signed a second order sealing a civil suit filed against the former owners and four workers of the closed Bo Peep Day Nursery in Bel Air.
Carr initially sealed the entire case the day the suit was filed, July 12, 1990.
That order was in effect for 60 days or until all defendants in the suit filed responses.
The day-care center, which operated in the 100 block of Hickory Avenue, was shut down by the state in November1989 amid allegations of child sexual abuse.
Lawyers for plaintiffs and defendants in the case have declined comment, citing the judge's seal order. However, from the court docket in the case, it appearsall defendants filed responses within the 60-day time frame of the judge's order.
The new seal order was filed by Carr on Jan. 17 after The Baltimore Sun Co. requested to see the case from Harford Clerk of the Courts Charles G. Hiob III. He is responsible for managing Harford case files. Hiob declined to unseal the case, stating that that decision must be made by Carr.
Mary R. Craig, a lawyer representing The Baltimore Sun Co. argued in a Jan. 8 letter to Hiob that Carr'soriginal order sealing the case expired by its own terms and that the case should be opened to the public.
Carr's new order seals the case "until further order of this court."
The seal order was written on the stationary of John S. Karas, an Aberdeen attorney who is part of a team of lawyers representing four children and their parents who filed the suit.
The Baltimore Sun Co., publisher of the Harford County Sun, filed a motion in circuit court on July 20, requesting that the case be opened to the public. Carr has not responded to thatmotion, nor scheduled a hearing for it.
The Sun is arguing that it has constitutional and common-law rights to review the documents filed in the Bo Peep case. Only part of the first page of the original complaint and docket entries have been available to the public.
A hearing on a motion to move proceedings in the case to another countyalso has not been scheduled, according to the court's assignment office.
The motion was filed by attorneys representing the plaintiffsinthe case, the court docket on the case shows.
The plaintiffs have asked the court to keep the case sealed, despite the motions by The Sun. The complaint does not name the four children or their parents, but identifies them by numbers.
If the case is opened, the plaintiff's attorneys have asked the court to use pseudonyms in place of the plaintiffs' names, seal discovery documents and keep private trialtranscripts describing specific acts of abuse against the alleged victims.
In the civil suit, Bel Air residents Patrick and Deborah Cassilly, who owned and operated the center, are named as defendants.
Also named as defendants are former teachers Rita Blevins and Maureen Baxter, both of Bel Air. Teri Schulz of Baltimore and Martha Scarborough also are named in the original complaint. Baxter and Schulz have been dropped from the suit, the court docket shows.
No criminalcharges have been filed in the case.