Young boys locked in dark closet, hit with ‘teacher’s stick’ at Methuen daycare, lawsuit alleges

WFXT-TV, Fox-25, (Boston MA)

October 14, 2022

By Frank O'Laughlin, Boston 25 News Staff and Ted Daniel

Two young boys were locked in a dark closet, deprived of the lunches their mothers packed for them, and beaten with a “teacher’s stick,” according to a lawsuit filed against a daycare in Methuen.

The civil lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Essex Superior Court against the Children’s Center of the Faith United Methodist Church, alleging battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and invasion of privacy, court documents indicate.

The mothers are being represented by Attorney Matthew J, Fogelman of Newton. In an interview with investigative reporter Ted Daniel he said, “It’s been extremely difficult for the parents and for the children. What happened to them is completely inappropriate, quite frankly, shocking. And it’s been very traumatic for the kids and for their parents.”

In the suit, Attorney Fogelman said the younger child has been diagnosed with, “PTSD and anxiety” from the alleged abuse he suffered.

Defendants listed in the lawsuit include the president of the Children’s Center, along with a handful of directors and a trio of employees. They were identified as Mark Siegel, Sandra Lumb, William Callahan, Jennifer Picard, Leticia Cordero, Iris Cordero, Yarlene Betances, Unexie Santos, and a Jane Doe.

One of the victims, age 4, was “frequently” locked in a dark supply closet near the gymnasium as a form of punishment, according to the lawsuit. Staffers at the daycare would allegedly tell the boy that there were monsters in the closet in an effort to scare him.

The lawsuit states the boy was routinely physically abused as a form of punishment and employees beat him with what they referred to as the “teacher’s stick.” The daycare is also accused of failing to prevent the victim’s peers from bullying him. Additionally, when the boy had to use the bathroom, employees would reportedly “lock him in the restroom and shut the lights off.”

The boy further claimed that he was restrained to the point where he couldn’t breathe and pinched and scratched by staffers. According to the lawsuit, the boy wasn’t allowed to eat food that his mother packed in his lunch box.

The other victim, age 3, was said to be locked in the same closet, and when he screamed for help, staffers allegedly told him to “shut the [expletive] up.” He too reported being beaten with the “teacher’s stick,” as well as frequently being called a “baby.”

Both victims also claimed that they were often referred to as “disgusting” for having to use the bathroom.

The lawsuit showed both boys suffer from PTSD, anxiety, night terrors, and self-confidence issues, and they are now undergoing intensive therapy.

The mothers of the boys also reported “significant damage” from emotional distress and lost wages.

A lawyer for the Children’s Center of the Faith United Methodist Church in Methuen issued a statement to Boston 25 responding to a lawsuit filed by the parents of the two children who attended the daycare.

“The Children’s Center denies that the Plaintiffs’ children were in any way mistreated while they were in its care,” attorney Kathryn A. O’leary wrote.

According to the daycare center, the parents first complained to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. The daycare center said DCF found the complaint to be supported and the teachers were allowed back to the classroom.

A DCF spokesperson confirmed an investigation was conducted. DCF does not make its findings public citing privacy reasons.

The suit seeks 15 million dollars in damages.


The Children’s Center learned today that it has been sued by two families that allege that their children were treated inappropriately while students at the Children’s Center.

The Children’s Center first learned that Plaintiff Dyanarah Fermin was unhappy with the Center for some reason when she appeared at the school on August 18, 2022 with an accomplice and assaulted her son’s teacher. The accomplice videotaped the altercation and the video was posted to the Center’s Facebook page.

The Methuen police removed Fermin and her accomplice from the Children’s Center. They are now seeking the issuance of a criminal complaint against Fermin.

A Harassment Prevention Order was issued by the Lawrence District Court against Fermin on behalf of the teacher who was assaulted.

The Department of Children and Families and the Department of Early Education and Care have investigated the families’ allegations. DCF found them UNSUPPORTED. The EEC has not issued its finding yet, however, it has authorized the teacher to return to the classroom. The Director of the Children’s Center and now its Board have investigated and find no support for the allegations.

The Children’s Center recently received demand letters on behalf of both families pursuant to MGL ch. 93A. It was in the process of responding to them when the families filed suit. The Children’s Center denies that the Plaintiffs’ children were in any way mistreated while they were in its care.