No corruption found in those who, probed Bo Peep day care

March 09, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons

The state special prosecutor found no criminal misconduct in the investigation of possible crimes against children who attended the Bo Peep Day Nursery in Bel Air, but he criticized the handling of the case by town police, in one instance calling it "inexcusable."

The report by Stephen Montanarelli came in response to complaints by parents of some of the eight children who were found by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to have been sexually and physically abused at Bo Peep.

After a series of hearings and appeals beginning in 1987, owner Deborah Cassilly lost her license and the day-care center closed after a decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals in November 1989.

But no criminal charges were placed against Mrs. Cassilly, her husband, Patrick Cassilly, or a former teacher, all named in sometimes shocking testimony at the licensing hearings. All of them have repeatedly denied ever harming a child.

Because Mr. Cassilly is a cousin of the Harford County state's attorney, Joseph I. Cassilly, the criminal investigation was transferred in 1987 to the Baltimore County state's attorney's office.

Assistant State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said the case remained open but inactive.

Mr. Montanarelli's report, dated Feb. 8 and obtained by The Sun, responded to five specific complaints by parents as follows:

* Bel Air Police Sgt. Wendell Baxter's failure to notify his superiors until four weeks after the first complaint of abuse on May 13, 1987, was "remarkable . . . but believable," because he and the social services team weren't "inclined to believe that the abuse occurred at Bo Peep or that an adult was involved."

The sergeant's failure to submit reports after a doctor found evidence of sodomy May 19 and after the interview of the toddler May 22 was "inexcusable," but there was no evidence of any criminal misconduct by the sergeant or his superiors.

* There was no unreasonable delay in transferring the criminal investigation to Baltimore County.

* There was no evidence that Mr. Cassilly discussed the case with the Baltimore County state's attorney, Sandra A. O'Connor, to support a charge of political influence on her investigation.

* No public official influenced the outcome of the Bo Peep investigation.

* And finally, there was no proof of bias by the Harford County Circuit Court judges.

Mr. Montanarelli emphasized that his office existed to investigate corrupt behavior by public officials and "we did not find evidence of such acts."

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