On Monday, Ken Levinson secured a $43,000,000.00 verdict in a day care child abuse case against a day care employee who sexually abused a six year old girl at the day care. Levinson won the verdict in St. Clair county, Illinois, which is near St. Louis, Missouri. A verdict of this size should shed light on day care child abuse while making a loud statement: if day care owners and operators are not going to protect and ensure the safety of the children in their care, they will be held fully accountable for the harms they cause or allow to be caused to children.
Our hope is that the verdict will help make sure daycare owners/operators do complete background checks on anyone who may have contact with children and will properly monitor their employees to protect every child trusted with their care. Let’s make sure that this type of betrayal of trust stops.
In a 2012 report detailing child maltreatment, the Children’s Bureau (Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, noted that four-fifths (78.3%) of child abuse victims were neglected, 18.3 percent were physically abused, 9.3 percent were sexually abused and 8.5 percent were psychologically maltreated. Of the victims who were sexually abused, 26.3 percent were in the age group of 12–14 years and one-third (33.8%) were younger than 9 years.
The historic verdict, although uncollectible, represents vindication for victim and the victim’s family. But who knows – as one juror pointed out during the trial, an incarcerated defendant could win the lottery.
While this was a tragic, troubling, and traumatizing event, hopefully it provides hope for other day care child abuse victims, and sends a strong message to day care centers across the nation.