Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.
LAKE ALFRED | A couple is suing the owners of a Lake Alfred day care, claiming a lack of supervision allowed someone, possibly a child, to molest and injure their 3-year-old daughter.
The girl told her parents a “big boy” touched her while she spent the day at Miss Meeka’s Enrichment Center, said Jeff Herman, the parents’ Boca Raton lawyer. The alleged inappropriate contact left the girl with a laceration, he said.
A Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigation in November concluded that the girl likely was injured by another child and that day care staffers, including an owner, Micheal “Meeka” Forrester, apparently watched the children sufficiently. No charges were filed.
Department of Children and Families records show the agency cited the day care five times last year for having inadequate supervision or teacher-student ratios.
The state requires day cares to provide constant watch over children, and Herman said the girl’s alleged injury proves the staff lapsed in its supervision.
“I see this too often, where kids are being assaulted by adults or other children,” Herman said. “The law is that these kids have to be under constant supervision, so it should never happen.”
The suit names Micheal Q. Forrester and Sherrick L. Forrester as defendants. Both are listed on state records as owners. Phone messages left at the day care at 1500 Lynchburg Road weren’t returned this week.
The lawsuit, dated Feb. 14 and filed in Polk County Court, doesn’t identify the child or parents.
Micheal Forrester opened the day care in July 2011, according to a Sheriff’s Office report on the criminal investigation.
The report says the mother told deputies the incident happened during the child’s first week at the day care. After she picked her daughter up and brought her home, her daughter used the bathroom and screamed in pain.
“The boys touched me,” the mother told deputies her daughter said. In a later interview with the girl, the report says, she told a counselor that a boy hurt her and a teacher witnessed the incident.
The girl’s teacher told the investigator the children were never left alone and she never witnessed the children acting inappropriately.
Micheal Forrester told the investigator the girl never made them aware of an injury or that anyone inappropriately touched her. The girl did tell Forrester while going to the bathroom that “my bottom hurts,” Forrester said, but the girl wouldn’t explain further.
Nor did she see any children behaving inappropriately.
The investigator attempted to interview children but noted the children seemed reluctant to speak because of their age.
“It cannot be determined exactly what occurred to the victim or who may have touched her inappropriately or out of curiosity,” the investigator wrote.
The supervision and staffing-related citations that DCF issued the day care last year included one in October in which an inspector said a staffer didn’t adequately watch young children playing outside and allowed them to climb on age-inappropriate playground equipment.
Among other citations, inspectors found the day care’s fire alarm disarmed with a low battery and evidence of a rodent or vermin infestation, DCF records show.
The day care is currently disputing citations that could result in a six-month license probation, a DCF official said.