Parents of four children who state health officials concluded were sexually and physically abused at a now-closed Bel Air day-care center are seeking more than $400 million in civil damages against the center's operators and two employees.
The lawsuit, originally filed a year ago and unsealed yesterday after objections by the Baltimore Sun Co., alleges 18 counts of negligence, assault, false imprisonment, conspiracy and other charges. The original suit named as defendants the former owners and operators of Bo Peep Day Nursery, Deborah and Patrick Cassilly, and four employees.
Two of the employees have since been dropped from the suit. The remaining two are identified as former teachers Rita Blevins and Martha Scarborough.
In the suit, the parents claim that their children continue to suffer physical, emotional and psychological harm as a result of the alleged abuse. The children were 3 to 4 years old while attending Bo Peep, according to court documents, and are now 7 to 8.
Harford County Circuit Judge William O. Carr reluctantly unsealed the suit yesterday, saying he feared that all members of the press might not exercise discretion to protect the identity of the children. The Evening Sun has a policy of not identifying children or others alleged to have been sexually abused.
State health officials, in a lengthy administrative proceeding, alleged that as many as 10 children were sexually and physically abused at Bo Peep in 1985 to 1987. In 1989, the state Court of Appeals upheld the center's closing.
No criminal charges have been filed, and the Cassillys and their employees have repeatedly denied harming the children.
A criminal investigation was moved to the Baltimore County state's attorney's office because Joseph I. Cassilly, the Harford County state's attorney, is the cousin of Patrick Cassilly. Prosecutors in Baltimore County have said the investigation remains open but inactive.