Ten days after the details of their multimillion-dollar lawsuit became public, parents of four children allegedly abused at the now-closed Bo Peep Day Nursery in Bel Air have dropped the litigation because of its cost.
"Financially, we couldn't continue," Nevett Steele Jr., one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said today.
He estimated the cost of depositions, expert witnesses and other needs at about $50,000 and said the parents already had outstanding lawyers' fees to pay.
The 18-count suit, which sought more than $400 million from Bo Peep owners Deborah and Patrick Cassilly and two former teachers at the day-care center, was dismissed without prejudice, Steele said, meaning it could be re-filed.
Steele said the parents mostly were interested in seeking money that could be used to pay for extended therapy for the children, who were 3 to 4 years old at the time of the alleged sexual and physical abuse and are now 7 to 8.
The suit, filed last year but unsealed 10 days ago after a court challenge by the Baltimore Sun Co., claimed that the children "continue to suffer nightmares, anxiety, depression, crying spells and an array of fears and phobias."
The Cassillys and former teachers Rita Blevins and Martha Scarborough, the other defendants, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Though Bo Peep was forced to close in 1989 after a series of administrative hearings brought by state health officials who alleged that as many as 10 children had been abused at the day-care center, no criminal charges have ever been filed.
A criminal investigation of Bo Peep was moved to the Baltimore County state's attorneys office because Patrick Cassilly is the cousin of Joseph I. Cassilly, the Harford County prosecutor. But prosecutors in Baltimore County say the investigation is inactive.
The inactive status of the criminal case was discouraging to the plaintiffs, Steele said. He said the parents had hoped the investigation would yield information they could use the in the suit.
No children testified about the allegations during 20 days of administrative hearings before Bo Peep's closure.
But if the civil case had proceeded, the children would have had to testify in some form, either by closed-circuit television or in open court.