Mesquite daycare sued, employee arrested after two-year-old is burned

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 11:07 PM

MESQUITE -- More than anything, Tasha Boston remembers her son's tears.

"He cried, he cried, he cried. That's all he could do," she said.

She cried, too. And still does.

"I was angry because no one could explain to me why," she said, wiping her eyes.

March 27, 2013 her two-year-old son Jordan Smith was burned inside his daycare, the Lil Rascals Learning Center at 2424 Baker Drive in Mesquite.

Photos of his injuried right hand taken in the emergency room are gruesome.

News 8 obtained one hour's worth of video from one of the surveillance cameras inside Lil Rascals. It shows one angle of what happened inside Jordan's classroom.

He ran to his teacher, a longtime center employee named Johnnie Brown, with his pants around his ankles. He'd had an accident.

Before sending him to the bathroom alone, Brown is seen on the video swatting Jordan on his backside. And based on that video, it appears no one entered the bahtroom to check on Jordan for more than 15 minutes.

Brown does go in, for about three minutes, and leaves with what looks to be Jordan's dirty clothes. Jordan remains in the bathroom, seemingly alone again, for five more minutes.

Eventually, he runs out naked to a sink, where Brown appears to wash his hands. After a couple of minutes, when she towels him off, she pays close attention to his right hand.

"He was burned. That's what I know happened, as far as how, I don't know," Boston said.

Brown is then seen wrapping Jordan in a towel and leaving the room for 12 minutes. The rest of the class of two year olds was left alone for much of that time, until another teacher came in.

According to a police report, Jordan told an investigator "Johnnie burned his hand with hot water."

Boston filed suit against the daycare this week, claiming Jordan's injuries were caused by Lil Rascals' "negligent, careless, and reckless disregard."

"The facts asserted in this lawsuit are based in part on the video evidence that we obtained, which we believe accurately depicts the events of that day," said attorney Mike Manktelow.

The daycare owner declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said she reported Jordan's injury to the state herself, as law requires her to do. She also said she immediately fired Johnnie Brown, who had been a 17-year employee.

Police charged Brown with felony injury to a child. A trial date has not been set, but she is due to appear in court in October.

"These kids are harmless and helpless," Boston said. "They can't defend themselves when mom's out trying to make a living."

"You beat yourself up. If you don't make a living, we'll starve," she continued, crying. "And if you do make a living, we think these people are genuinely loving people that love kids, and then, this happens."

The state of Texas cited Lil Rascals for several violations, including the physical abuse of a child that caused injury. They were also cited for not calling paramedics, and leaving Jordan and the classroom of two year olds unattended.

They will be subjected to surprise inspections from now until March. Any deficiencies found by state inspectors could cause the facility to be shut down.

Jordan's hand is healing, but Boston said he's scared of water.

"He'll say, 'Momma is this cold water?' and I tell him, 'yeah,'" she said. "He won't touch the hot water, if he knows the stove is on he'll be like, 'That's hot.' He's cautious."

Boston has her own fears. She's having a hard time leaving him.

"I'm just leary and skeptical," she said. "But he has to go, because I have to work. The new daycare, they know my number because I call all the time. They know me."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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