The parents of a 5-year-old boy allege in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that a day care teacher at Sugar and Spice Child Enrichment Center struck their child, pushed him into bookcases and then let another child taunt and hit the boy.
The lawsuit alleges Sugar and Spice officials were negligent in hiring and supervising the teacher.
Angel Broughton and Paul Accattato, parents of Carter Accattato, filed the lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court against Jacinta Antoinetta Gladden and Sugar and Spice Child Enrichment Center, which is based in Winston-Salem but has a day care center on Union Cross Road near Kernersville. Gladden, 32, of Old Vineyard Road, is already facing child abuse charges stemming from the incident that occurred on June 17 at the day care center.
The lawsuit said Gladden struck, threw, grabbed and pushed Carter into “bookcases, walls, the floor” and held Carter on top of a table “while his head and legs were suspended off the floor. Gladden is also accused in the lawsuit of “inducing other younger children to taunt and ridicule the minor Plaintiff, inducing other children to strike and kick the minor child while he was restrained” and “repeatedly calling the minor Plaintiff, ‘baby.’”
The lawsuit alleges that Gladden and other “unidentified teachers” traumatized Carter enough to cause “extreme emotional distress” and pretended to call the police. They then told Carter that police were on their way to pick him up, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said the incident was captured by surveillance cameras at the center and was visible in the manager and director’s office.
Gladden was indicted last week on negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, intentional child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, assault on a child under 12 and two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. Indictments and arrest warrants said Gladden slid Carter across the floor and held him to a bookshelf while telling another student to strike Carter.
Court documents allege that Carter had bruises and scratches on his torso and arm as a result of the assault.
Valerie Perkins, Gladden’s criminal attorney, did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges that Sugar and Spice officials were negligent in hiring and supervising Gladden and that they failed to conduct proper background checks on her.
The lawsuit said Sugar and Spice failed to fire Gladden after Carter’s parents complained about her several months before the June 17 incident.
Chanthini Palmer, the president of Sugar and Spice, did not return a message Wednesday seeking comment.
Gladden isn’t the only day care teacher facing charges from the June 17 incident.
Juneaice Nichole Neely, 32, of Linville Street in Walkertown was indicted last week on charges of negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury and misdemeanor child abuse.
Indictments and arrest warrants allege that Neely showed “reckless disregard” by not doing anything to prevent Gladden from physically assaulting Carter and letting other students assault Carter.
James McMinn, Neely’s attorney, said Neely was a good employee at Sugar Spice, never hurt anyone and denies any criminal wrongdoing.
Gladden and Neely are scheduled to appear in Forsyth Superior Court on Sept. 8. It was not immediately clear if they still work at Sugar and Spice.
John Vermitsky, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said he is still investigating and has not made a decision whether he will name Neely as a defendant.
According to the lawsuit, Carter has suffered emotional damage, including post-traumatic stress disorder. He has “crippling fear when attending day care,” so his parents call it “summer camp.”
“These injuries have required the minor Plaintiff to receive counseling and pyschological treatment and other medical treatment, which has led to significant medical bills and expenses,” the lawsuit said.
Vermitsky said he has full confidence in the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office’s prosecuting the criminal offenses.
“We hope (the lawsuit) will shed some light on the dangers that children face when proper care is not taken at day care,” he said.
The lawsuit is seeking a total of at least $50,000 in damages.
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