Judge issues TRO against preschool in light of abuse allegations

David Yates Feb. 13, 2008, 7:31am

A restraining order has been issued against Wesley United Methodist Church, prohibiting the church from tampering with or destroying any evidence that might prove allegations of inappropriate touching between two children at its preschool.

The allegations surfaced after a tip was called in to a child abuse hotline last month. Since that time, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has been conducting an ongoing investigation.

The unidentified parents of the 4-year-old child, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by another preschooler, filed their motion for a temporary restraining order on Feb. 11 in the Jefferson County District Court.

That same day, Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, granted the motion.

"The four year old minor victim was enrolled � at the Wesley United Methodist Church run daycare at the time of this preventable incident," the restraining order stated.

"Public statements have been made by and on behalf of the church daycare in a calculated and false effort to deny the improper touching incident. These statements are inconsistent with independent medical expert(s) and medical records who have medically determined that a sexual assault occurred while (the child) was supposedly under the church daycare's custody and control."

The improper touching incident allegedly occurred on Jan. 23. The child's parents claim church staff was aware of prior "inappropriate behavior by the same classmate" who assaulted their child, the order states.

"(Wesley United) failed to take reasonable steps to protect the victim child," the suit said. "At the time of the improper touching, both the minor victim and the minor assailant were under the supervisory control of (the church."

According to the church's Web site, Wesley Preshool is a non-profit organization housed in Wesley United Methodist Church in Beaumont, Texas. The school is self sustaining but under the umbrella of the church. The school pays rent to the church. All tuition and other fees are used to provide staff salaries, equipment, and supplies.

"Wesley Preschool is fully licensed by the State of Texas. We operate our school to meet or exceed the minimum standards of childcare. State and City health, fire, and licensing offices routinely inspect the school. There is no discrimination in the enrollment based upon race, color, or religion."

The parents of the victim child are represented by Timothy Ferguson of the Ferguson Firm.

Case No. B181-210

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