Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts is being investigated for alleged sexual abuse of four children at the daycare center on campus.
A Bridgewater State student who worked at the center, Kyle Loughlin, is accused of sexually assaulting two boys ages 4 and 5 in March. Peter Schworm, reporting for The Boston Globe, writes that the former director of the center, Judith Ritacco, has been charged with reckless endangerment, having failed to intervene after staff members had warned that Loughlin was acting inappropriately with children.
One of the attorneys for the sexual abuse victims, Carmen Durso, said the plaintiffs are not seeking damages but want to know if the university should have or could have become involved sooner to protect children in its care.
"What the parents want more than anything is to find out what they knew, when they knew it, and could they have stopped this," Durso said at a news conference. "We're not talking about a little day care around the corner; we are talking about one of the state's largest public universities."
In some cases, parents said they became concerned because of unusual behavior they noticed in their children. The children are ages 2 to 5 and are too young to accurately explain what happened to them.
Loughlin was arrested after he allegedly told police that he had assaulted the two boys. He was studying early childhood education at Bridgewater State and had been working at the daycare for two years.
Police officials say that Ritacco failed to immediately report the complaints and intimidated teachers with knowledge of the actions involving Loughlin by making them remain silent. Ritacco, who has since been fired, said she immediately informed her supervisor when a parent came forward.
Ritacco's lawyer says that she is being made a scapegoat. Durso says the reason for the lawsuit is to find out if there was a coverup.
"They trusted BSU to take care of their child, and that did not happen," said Kathy Jo Cook, a lawyer for the parents of one of the alleged victims.
The 28-year-old mother of the two boys who were alleged to have been digitally raped by Loughlin said that she specifically asked if children were left alone with student assistants. She says she was told that they absolutely were not. Benjamin Paulin, writing for The Enterprise, reports that Ritacco went to her boss, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Salvaggio, and informed him of the incident.
When The Enterprise asked for email records between the parties connected to the day care center, the university responded that it would produce an aggregate of the 21,024 emails sent during that period if the newspaper would pay $8,409.60 in copying charges and $51,889.55 in labor costs. State public record laws discourage such excessive fees for public records, and the newspaper plans to appeal to Secretary of State William Gavin's office concerning the response from the university.
Loughlin, 21, did admit his crimes to police, but according to The Boston Globe, he denied the charges in court. MassLive's Brian Steele says Loughlin is being held without bail.