The Court of Special Appeals has ordered Harford Circuit Court to grant the Baltimore Sun Co. a hearing to argue why a sealed civil suit against the owners and workers of the former Bo Peep Day Nursery of Bel Air should be opened to the public.
The Baltimore Sun Co., which publishes The Harford County Sun, took the case to the state court last month after the Circuit Court failed to act on the Sun's requestfor a hearing to argue why the Bo Peep suit should be opened to the public. The lawsuit and the Sun's motion were filed nearly eight months ago.
The Special Appeals Court ruling, issued Feb. 25, was written by Judges Alan M. Wilner, John J. Bishop Jr. and Paul E. Alpert.
The order has been received by Harford Circuit Court, but a hearing has not been scheduled, said Lou Ann Bane, the court's assignment clerk.
The day care center, in a Victorian house in the 100 block of Hickory Avenue of Bel Air, was shut down by the state in November 1989 following allegations of child sexual abuse.
Four unnamed children and their parents filed a civil suit against Bo Peep's owners and workers on July 12, 1990.
Only part of the first page of the suit and docket entries have been made open to the public.
Circuit Judge William O. Carr initially sealed the case the day the
suit was filed.That seal was to be in effect for 60 days or until all defendants inthe case filed responses, according to the order.
All the defendants filed responses by October, the court docket shows.
Carr signed a second order Jan. 17 sealing the Bo Peep case indefinitely, afterthe Sun informed the court that the first order had expired and requested to see the file.
The Sun filed a motion in Circuit Court July 20 requesting that the case be opened to the public and asking for a hearing on its request.
Carr has never responded to that motion or scheduled a hearing for it.
The Sun requested a hearing on its motion by calling and writing to Carr and other court officials five times between July 23 and Sept. 28. On Jan. 31, the Sun's attorneys then appealed to the state court, asking it to order a hearing on its motion to open the case.
The civil suit names Patrick and Deborah Cassilly as defendants. The couple owned the center, which was operated by Deborah Cassilly.
Also named as defendants in the original complaint are former teachers Rita Blevins and Maureen Baxter, both ofBel Air, and Teri Schulz and Martha Scarborough.
Baxter and Schulz have been dropped from the suit, the court docket shows.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case.