Day care facing lawsuit over shocking video
AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) -- A local family filed a lawsuit against the Carefree Early Learning Center in Aurora on Thursday.
The Aurora Police Department confirmed it is investigating an incident that occurred at the center in November, and the Arapahoe County Social Services Department wrapped up its investigation and found the center violated some rules.
The mother of the child involved has a lot of questions about who knew what and when. And why it took weeks for her to be notified.
Carol said the day care's video system initially gave her comfort.
"Normally, if you have cameras around you aren't going to do something you're not supposed to do," she said. "So that sold me because as a parent you want to make sure your child is safe, secure and treated the way he's supposed to be treated."
Her 5-year-old son had been at the Carefree Early Learning Center since August and things seemed fine. Then, she said in mid- to late November, the owner's husband, Karl Gurtler, mentioned an incident involving her son.
See stills from the incident:
"He definitely downplayed it," Carol said. "He said something happened between him and my son."
Then she got a call from the Arapahoe County Social Services Department but said it was very brief and no one would tell her exactly what happened.
But then she received an anonymous email at her work that contained the video. It showed Gurtler sitting at a small table in the classroom with the kids and two teachers.
Carol's son can be seen crying. She said he later told her he wanted to keep coloring. The video shows a teacher pick up the little boy and set him on her lap while she consoles him.
Gurtler abruptly gets up and grabs the little boy under the arms, dragging him to a corner mat. Gurtler could be heard shouting "shut up" at the child.
The video shows Gurtler grabbing the boy again and dragging him out of the room and into another classroom where he continues dragging him until they are out of camera view.
Carol said she dropped to her knees when she saw the video.
"I cried inconsolably. It was the worst day of my life," she said. "I go to work every day thinking everything is OK with my son and then I get this video. Like I said, that day changed my life."
Carol said what happened to her son is bad enough but what makes it worse is no one -- not the day care center and not social services -- told her anything about the incident until more than two weeks after it happened.
"Eighteen days they took the power out of my hands, being the parent," she said. "To take care of my child and get him out of that situation."
According to Arapahoe County Social Services Department documents, Carefree Early Learning Center was cited for "minor neglect environment injurious."
The agency cannot comment on any specific case, including this one.
But a spokeswoman said it tries to loop in parents when there is an investigation as soon as possible. But a lot of factors can impact how fast that happens.
The day care center owner said it complied with all reporting and agency requirements. She said it apologized to the family and also said this kind of thing never happened before and never will again.
Aurora police said no one notified them about the incident, but they opened an investigation after FOX31 Denver showed them the video.