A Montrose woman endured a mother’s worst nightmare, according to her recent lawsuit against the daycare where a worker was accused of breaking her baby’s arms.
Julie Beebe in an Oct. 31 complaint brought on her own behalf and behalf of her daughter alleges Tender Hearts Preschool and Daycare Childcare Center was negligent in its training, hiring and administration, as well as in the care provided.
Although former daycare worker Carolina Jaramillo, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, was ultimately charged with child abuse, at first, suspicions fell onto Beebe, whose children were temporarily removed from her care as a result.
“This is a beautiful baby, a tough case,” said Beebe’s attorney Keith Killian on Thursday. “My client obviously feels aggrieved by this whole situation, shocked and disheartened by it all. We’re bringing the claims the law permits us to bring.”
It was not clear whether the complaint had been served as of Thursday.
No attorney was listed for Tender Hearts, which closed abruptly in September, according to a letter sent home to parents. A working number for Tender Hearts’ former owner — who is not specifically named in the lawsuit — could not be determined.
Jaramillo, now free on bond, was arrested in May and charged with reckless child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. She is next due in court Dec. 5, at which time a preliminary hearing could be scheduled.
Jaramillo’s arrest affidavit alleges she pinned, slapped and sat on Beebe’s child, who was then 8 months old. Jaramillo is accused of twisting the little girl’s arms until one went “limp,” the affidavit says.
Although video footage investigators ultimately viewed is alleged to show these acts, it was Beebe who was initially suspected, the lawsuit says, and caseworkers deemed as implausible her insistence that she was not responsible.
The suit laid out a timeline:
On April 24, Beebe picked up her baby from the daycare and went home, where one of the baby’s older siblings accidentally “came into contact” with her arm, causing distress. When Beebe gathered up the infant, she noticed her daughter’s arm seemed swollen and injured, so she took her to the hospital.
There, X-rays showed both arms had been broken — and “some of the breaks on (baby’s) arms were new, while other breaks had already begun to heal,” the complaint states.
“Due to the age of the breaks, the doctors at the hospital determined (baby) had been abused for an extended period of time. As (her) mother and primary caretaker, Beebe immediately became the prime suspect for (her) abuse.”
As a result, all children in Beebe’s care were removed from the home, causing her distress, as well as fear that she would be jailed for something she did not do and permanently separated from her children. Beebe “unequivocally” denied abusing any of her children and also told a detective that she knew Tender Hearts had video camera.
Child services workers filed a dependency and neglect petition, however, and Beebe was denied contact with all of her children, who were taken into care.
That changed after May 1, when police reviewed the video footage. On it, Jaramillo allegedly could be seen pulling the baby’s arms from beneath her; pulling her backwards by the legs, pinning her arm to her side and shoving her head to the floor before “forcefully” slapping her, according to the suit.
The complaint also alleges Jaramillo held the baby down and spanked her before twisting and jerking her arm.
The arrest affidavit and lawsuit say the baby could be seen struggling to pull herself up off her stomach, at which time Jaramillo allegedly shook her several times.
Jaramillo allegedly admitted to investigators that she had hurt the baby at least four times since January.
Once the video was reviewed, the neglect case against Beebe was dismissed.
What happened was “humiliating” for his client, Killian said Thursday. “Imagine how a mother would feel if she were accused of harming her own child,” he said.
When the video was reviewed May 1, Jaramillo, then 22, was separated from employment at Tender Hearts.
The daycare’s owner previously said she takes seriously the care and safety of children and had surveillance in place for that reason.
The Beebe complaint alleges Tender Hearts is liable for what happened to the baby. Had appropriate policies and procedures been in place to ensure training, support and management, the alleged abuse could have been prevented, Killian wrote in the complaint.
In addition to seeking damages for injuries and financial losses, Beebe in the filing also sought the court’s leave to possibly seek damages that would deter the placement of “unsuitable” care providers. The complaint alleges negligent hiring, negligent care of the injured baby, negligent monitoring and the negligent administration of a childcare facility.
Citing allegations in the criminal case, Killian’s filing says Jaramillo had reported not having enough help in supervising the infant room at Tender Hearts.
Further, per the suit, Tender Hearts should have known Jaramillo was “not suitable” to take care of babies. The complaint says Jaramillo has an intellectual disability and had participated in educational programs to help graduates with special needs learn life skills.
“Despite needing special training to learn how to take care of herself, Tender Hearts made her the sole caretaker of multiple infants,” Killian wrote.
“ … Jaramillo was frequently overwhelmed while she was alone with the infants.”
Killian said that in retrospect, Beebe saw “red flags” prior to April 24, including finding her daughter with rug burn on her forehead, indicating she had been on the floor longer than Jaramillo told Beebe, and learning from a cook that the baby could frequently be heard “screaming” in the infant room next to the kitchen.
“(Baby) would have cried loudly during the multiple times she was abused by Jaramillo,” the suit alleges.
Tender Hearts should have reasonably also recognized the red flags, and, at minimum, kept a closer watch on Jaramillo, the complaint also says.
In her criminal case, Jaramillo’s arrest affidavit alleges she admitted to being physical with another child as well. Beebe’s suit says this could also have been captured on video, and should have provided notice to other staff members at Tender Hearts that something was wrong.
Although Tender Hearts promptly fired Jaramillo upon viewing the footage of her with Beebe’s child, that alleged abuse “could have been stopped or lessened” had her activity been monitored through the video camera in the infant room, the filing says. And, it could have been prevented entirely, had Tender Hearts employed proper policy and procedure, the document also says.
The lawsuit alleges that previous violations with respect to staff training and related issues had been found during state inspections of Tender Hearts in 2018 and that, had Beebe known of them, she never would have entrusted her child’s care to the facility.
The Montrose Daily Press contacted the Colorado Office of Early Childhood to check on reported violations, but that information could not be provided prior to deadline.