An investigative report by NBC Washington’s News4 I-Team has revealed that a man who was arrested and pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an 8-year-old student at CentroNia had a history of sexual misconduct allegations prior to his arrest.
CentroNia is one of Washington D.C.’s most popular child care programs, with a waiting list of over 400 seeking to enter the program. In 2018, teaching assistant Juan Arturo Perez pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl at the center.
According to the I-Team report, records from Perez’s case and D.C. child care inspections show multiple previous allegations of sexual misconduct involving Perez. Furthermore, CentroNia failed in their legal duty to notify law enforcement about these allegations and multiple other forms of employee misconduct.
The D.C. Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) conducted an inspection of CentroNia in July of 2018 and found that the center had cited Perez for “inappropriate conduct” in 2004. A corrective action form was put in his employee file for that incident, which said that Perez would be fired if there was another incident.
The same inspection determined that Perez was suspended in 2015 after being accused of sexually abusing a child. In that case, he was accused of touching a young girl’s chest, being too affection towards her, and “begging the (girl’s) parents to let the child spend the weekend alone with him at the employee’s house.” Despite this incident, he was permitted to return to work at CentroNia.
According to the OSSE inspection, CentroNia failed to notify authorities about either of these cases of alleged misconduct. Washington D.C. has mandatory reporting laws for suspected child abuse, and a failure to report would be in violation of those laws.
The OSSE inspection found that another employee was accused of sexually abusing a student at the center in 2017. According to the inspection report, CentroNia failed to properly keep records in this case and waited 12 days after the alleged incident before notifying education authorities. This case was later dropped by Child and Family Services because, according to the report, the family withdrew their child from the center and did not want to pursue the case. This employee was accused of “inappropriate conduct” with a child at the center again in 2018.
Perez served six months in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree sexual abuse and deportation proceedings against him are currently pending.
Attorney contributor Laurence Banville of BanvilleLaw.com represents sex abuse victims and their families, helping them find justice in civil lawsuits. Brian has offered to share some general information regarding the legal rights of daycare sex abuse victims and their families:
It should go without saying that a daycare’s primary responsibility is to make sure that the children under their watch are safe. But sadly, we have seen far too many cases of daycares failing in this basic responsibility.
In any field that involves working with children, there must be safeguards in place to protect those children from sexual predators. New job applicants must be thoroughly screened and current employees must be held to a high standard. When allegations of sexual misconduct arise, they must be taken seriously and reported to the authorities. And those with a history of misconduct allegations must be terminated.
When a child discloses that they’ve been sexually abused by a daycare employee, it’s important that the child’s family is aware of their legal rights. While the criminal justice system may handle the prosecution of the perpetrator, the family also may have legal options in civil courts. In cases where the daycare was negligent – such as allowing an employee with a history of misconduct allegations to keep their job – the victim’s family may have grounds for a school sex abuse lawsuit.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse at a daycare, you can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking with an experienced sex abuse victims lawyer in a free consultation.