One Massachusetts father recounted his horrifying experience with daycare abuse.
It all began when he picked up his three-year-old at the Community Montessori School in Natick.
“I picked him up with him in my arms. And then almost right away, I noticed that one of his ears was severely bruised,” the father said.
A teacher quickly arrived with an explanation.
“She said that she wasn’t really sure what happened, and she just said it must have happened at the gym,” the father said.
However, when the boy’s parents, who asked to remain anonymous to protect their son’s identity, looked closer — they discovered both of the toddler’s ears were bruised.
They then shared pictures with doctors, who urged them to rush him to an emergency room, saying the bruising did not look like an accident, but abuse.
“We were kind of in a state of shock,” said the boy’s mother. Days later, these feelings would intensify.
“He said to me that she touched his ears and he cried. And I was so shocked and appalled when I heard that,” the boy’s mother said.
Doctors reported the suspected abuse and a state investigation later confirmed it, saying the boy’s teacher was responsible. The teacher, Sophie Varatharasa, is now named in a lawsuit. She is also the sister of the preschool’s founder and director, Lucie Varatharasa.
The state also determined that two other children in the same class were abused in a similar way by Sophie. She has yet to be criminally charged.
“This person that we trusted to care for a child again actually physically harmed him. That was really devastating and painful,” the boy’s mother said.
However, the story doesn’t end there. The parents soon learned from the state Department of Early Education and Care, which regulates daycares, how their Community Montessori School violated regulations in the past. Records revealed that background checks, staffing levels, and proper administration, had all been violated at one time or another.
During the investigation into their son, the director continued to deny any abuse had occurred. The state not only allowed the Community Montessori School to stay open, but also allowed the director to start another daycare in December. Piccolini Care opened just six months after the investigation ended.
“Do you feel the state has held the school accountable for what happened?” 5 Investigates’ Karen Anderson asked the parents of the little boy.
“I don’t think that they have,” the boy’s mother said. “EEC was really not able to in a meaningful way hold the school accountable for what happened to our son. And it sort of seemed like basically an administrative slap on the wrist.”
What is even more disturbing is that while Sophie is banned from working at the school, she has been seen frequenting the premises.
“That is very concerning and upsetting to me, although unfortunately not surprising given the interactions that we’ve had with the school,” the boy’s mother said.
EEC said in a statement that it has followed all of its requirements under state and federal laws and “implemented a corrective action plan as well as enhanced monitoring for this program with clearly defined expectations for full compliance with EEC licensing regulations. The Department is committed to its responsibilities to uphold the professional and safety standards expected in all licensed early education and care programs, and to protect the health and safety of all children it serves.”
“Our big hope is that by the actions we’re taking that this will help another child, that this will help another family to not have to go through what we’ve been through,” the boy’s mother said.