The Roys Report [Chicago IL]
February 6, 2023
By Josh Shepherd
Parents who say their child was abused by a teacher at a preschool in Texas are suing the preschool where the abuse allegedly happened. They’re also suing a Christian preschool where the teacher was previously employed, claiming the school failed to report other allegations of the teacher’s abuse, allowing his abuse to continue.
The lawsuit was filed on January 26 in Dallas County District Court and seeks $100 million in damages. The Roys Report (TRR) is not naming the alleged victim’s parents to protect the alleged victim’s identity.
The suit alleges that Thaddaeus Davidson, 34, abused the plaintiffs’ 3-year-old child while employed at Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Southlake.
The suit adds that Davidson’s previous employer, Lionheart Children’s Academy, failed to report allegations of abuse, dating back to 2021. A non-profit Christian organization founded in 2014, Lionheart operates educational childcare programs using contracted church facilities.
According to Lionheart, Davidson has only ever been employed at their Grapevine location, operating at 121 Community Church. However, the lawsuit names the Lionheart program at Cross City Church in nearby Euless.
Joel Pardo, attorney for the parents of the alleged victim, provided no public comment to TRR’s inquiry about this discrepancy.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Davidson, Lionheart Children’s Academy Inc., Endeavor Carpe Diem LLC, and several employees of both schools.
Davidson was arrested last October by Southlake Police and charged with two counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. Davidson was being held at Keller Regional Detention Center, but he has since bonded out and is awaiting a Feb. 7 preliminary hearing in his criminal case.
Carpe Diem initially placed Davidson on leave when the recent allegations first surfaced but has since fired him.
Christian school allegedly covered up abuse
The suit claims that Lionheart Children’s Academy was aware of two prior abuse allegations against Davidson but failed to report the allegations to authorities or warn future employers.
The suit states that after Davidson was arrested, Lionheart sent a letter to parents of the school, admitting that academy director, Sarah Castaneda, knew of abuse allegations against Davidson dating back to 2021.
“Lionheart failed to notify the appropriate authorities, such as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and other entities in place to protect children about the child abuse allegations pertaining to Defendant Davidson,” the suit states. “Further, Defendants Castaneda and Lionheart failed to document Defendant Davidson’s child abuse allegations internally or reference the allegations during their references for him.”
The suit also states that Lionheart terminated Castaneda “for covering up these abuse allegations” only after Davidson was arrested.
Ashleigh Johnson, vice president of marketing at Lionheart Children’s Academy, told The Roys Report that they cannot comment on case specifics. But she stated that “the claims against Lionheart are groundless” and confirmed Davidson’s past employment.
Johnson added: “We were devastated to learn of the criminal allegations against a former employee, Thaddaeus Davidson, for his conduct at other preschools. Although a subsequent investigation of his time at Lionheart in Grapevine did not reveal any evidence of abuse, we proactively implemented changes at this program to fortify our commitment to all aspects of child safety.”
A current job posting on LinkedIn shows that Lionheart is seeking to hire an Academy Director for their Grapevine program, the position formerly held by Castaneda according to Lionheart.
Representing the parents of the alleged victim, attorney Pardo told TRR in a statement that Lionheart failed to do its “bare minimum” duty.
“Reporting child abuse to our state authorities is the bare minimum (that) Lionheart was required to do in order to protect children,” Pardo said. “Businesses who use Christianity as a foundation for operation, advertisement, and profit should inherently go above and beyond to preserve the important principles within Christianity.”
Suit charges preschool of negligence
The lawsuit also alleges that Carpe Diem Preschool, where the plaintiffs’ child was allegedly abused, failed to properly supervise Davidson and children in his care.
The suit says Davidson “was placed in small and unsupervised classrooms with multiple children” and “was even paired off with individual children, including (plaintiffs’ child).”
The suit further alleges that “on September 22, 2022, and potentially on multiple other occasions,” Davidson sexually abused the plaintiffs’ child, causing “severe and life-long damages.”
“Defendants had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others,” the suit states. It adds that “such acts/or omissions of gross negligence” resulted in the “injuries and damages” sustained by the 3-year-old victim.
TRR reached out to Carpe Diem for comment but did not receive a response.
But in a statement to a local station, Carpe Diem stated: “We followed protocol when hiring the former teacher, including the completion of both a background and reference check. As soon as we learned of the alleged behavior, we immediately reported it to Child Protective Services . . .”
The plaintiffs in the case are asking for a trial by jury and more than $100 million for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, medical expenses, lawyer’s fees, and punitive damages.
Julie Roys contributed to this report.