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Parents Sue Christian Preschool, Alleging Sex Abuse Cover-up

By Josh Shepherd
Thaddaeus Davidson preschool
In October 2022, Thaddaeus Davidson was arrested on charges of child sex abuse. (Photo: Southlake Police Department)

Parents who say their child was abused by a teacher at a preschool in Texas are suing the preschool where the abuse allegedly happened. They’re also suing a Christian preschool where the teacher was previously employed, claiming the school failed to report other allegations of the teacher’s abuse, allowing his abuse to continue.

The lawsuit was filed on January 26 in Dallas County District Court and seeks $100 million in damages. The Roys Report (TRR) is not naming the alleged victim’s parents to protect the alleged victim’s identity. 

The suit alleges that Thaddaeus Davidson, 34, abused the plaintiffs’ 3-year-old child while employed at Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Southlake.

The suit adds that Davidson’s previous employer, Lionheart Children’s Academy, failed to report allegations of abuse, dating back to 2021. A non-profit Christian organization founded in 2014, Lionheart operates educational childcare programs using contracted church facilities.

According to Lionheart, Davidson has only ever been employed at their Grapevine location, operating at 121 Community Church. However, the lawsuit names the Lionheart program at Cross City Church in nearby Euless.

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Joel Pardo, attorney for the parents of the alleged victim, provided no public comment to TRR’s inquiry about this discrepancy.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Davidson, Lionheart Children’s Academy Inc., Endeavor Carpe Diem LLC, and several employees of both schools.

Davidson was arrested last October by Southlake Police and charged with two counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. Davidson was being held at Keller Regional Detention Center, but he has since bonded out and is awaiting a Feb. 7 preliminary hearing in his criminal case.

Carpe Diem initially placed Davidson on leave when the recent allegations first surfaced but has since fired him.

Christian school allegedly covered up abuse

The suit claims that Lionheart Children’s Academy was aware of two prior abuse allegations against Davidson but failed to report the allegations to authorities or warn future employers.

The suit states that after Davidson was arrested, Lionheart sent a letter to parents of the school, admitting that academy director, Sarah Castaneda, knew of abuse allegations against Davidson dating back to 2021.

“Lionheart failed to notify the appropriate authorities, such as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and other entities in place to protect children about the child abuse allegations pertaining to Defendant Davidson,” the suit states. “Further, Defendants Castaneda and Lionheart failed to document Defendant Davidson’s child abuse allegations internally or reference the allegations during their references for him.”

The suit also states that Lionheart terminated Castaneda “for covering up these abuse allegations” only after Davidson was arrested.  

lionheart preschool
Lionheart Children’s Academy offices at 121 Community Church in Grapevine, Texas (Photo via Facebook)

Ashleigh Johnson, vice president of marketing at Lionheart Children’s Academy, told The Roys Report that they cannot comment on case specifics. But she stated that “the claims against Lionheart are groundless” and confirmed Davidson’s past employment.

Johnson added: “We were devastated to learn of the criminal allegations against a former employee, Thaddaeus Davidson, for his conduct at other preschools. Although a subsequent investigation of his time at Lionheart in Grapevine did not reveal any evidence of abuse, we proactively implemented changes at this program to fortify our commitment to all aspects of child safety.”

A current job posting on LinkedIn shows that Lionheart is seeking to hire an Academy Director for their Grapevine program, the position formerly held by Castaneda according to Lionheart.

Representing the parents of the alleged victim, attorney Pardo told TRR in a statement that Lionheart failed to do its “bare minimum” duty.

“Reporting child abuse to our state authorities is the bare minimum (that) Lionheart was required to do in order to protect children,” Pardo said. “Businesses who use Christianity as a foundation for operation, advertisement, and profit should inherently go above and beyond to preserve the important principles within Christianity.”

Suit charges preschool of negligence 

The lawsuit also alleges that Carpe Diem Preschool, where the plaintiffs’ child was allegedly abused, failed to properly supervise Davidson and children in his care.

The suit says Davidson “was placed in small and unsupervised classrooms with multiple children” and “was even paired off with individual children, including (plaintiffs’ child).”

carpe diem preschool
Logo for Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Southlake, Texas (Image via Facebook)

The suit further alleges that “on September 22, 2022, and potentially on multiple other occasions,” Davidson sexually abused the plaintiffs’ child, causing “severe and life-long damages.”

“Defendants had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others,” the suit states. It adds that “such acts/or omissions of gross negligence” resulted in the “injuries and damages” sustained by the 3-year-old victim.

TRR reached out to Carpe Diem for comment but did not receive a response.

But in a statement to a local station, Carpe Diem stated: “We followed protocol when hiring the former teacher, including the completion of both a background and reference check. As soon as we learned of the alleged behavior, we immediately reported it to Child Protective Services . . .” 

The plaintiffs in the case are asking for a trial by jury and more than $100 million for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, medical expenses, lawyer’s fees, and punitive damages.

Julie Roys contributed to this report.

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12 Responses

  1. Why would anybody hire an able bodied male to work with children in daycare?!!! Look at him, I wouldn’t let him watch my dog. That a male wants to work with small children is a huge red flag, and to leave any children under the supervision of one adult is stupid. I can’t understand how this keeps happening. I look at my young innocent grandchild and to picture this horror happening to him or any child makes me sick. Child sexual abuse, in my opinion should be a capital crime. Ignoring or covering up such behavior by a “Christian” organization is incomprehensible.

    1. I certainly agree that young children should never be under the supervision of one adult; that’s a child protection nightmare.

      But I strongly disagree with your idea that men shouldn’t work with small children. In fact, I find that assertion bizarre and more than a little concerning. We need far more men in early childhood education.

  2. I used to be amazed when “christians” were so judgmental of someone’s appearance, but not any more. You don’t even know this person except by appearance and yet you feel qualified to judge them?

    1. Tom, I would usually agree with you on this but…I’m not sure as a 47yr old man who served in the US Military, I’d feel safe alone in a room with this guy.

      It’s crazy to see an organization try to play the blame game and not take responsibility for their poor decisions and policies.

    2. Tom, as a parent one has to make decisions, use their judgment, on who they leave their children with. I am not judging him but using my judgement, yes based on his looks, I would not leave a child with him. I would be concerned about any parent that would. I also can’t be the only one that thinks it is odd that an adult male would want to work in daycare with small children, to me it’s a red flag.

      1. Mark, can you help me understand why you find it troubling that a man would want to work with young children? I really don’t understand that sentiment.

        1. John, I understand that Jesus held and blessed the children. I know men are an important and necessary part raising children. Men need to be involved in every stage of child development. I have 3 sons, all now adults, I loved their childhood, playing with them, teaching them, providing for them, and loving them and their mother. I also understand women also can abuse children, but that is much more rare. As a father and now a grandparent I have the obligation to protect children from harm, and as Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Causing a child to sin is a great harm and Jesus takes great harm to children seriously. There is a God given difference between men and women and and an adult male wanting to work in daycare with small children seems odd to me. My judgement is not perfect but sometimes one has to go with their gut feeling. In this case I would have protected my child from harm.

          1. What do you think is the “God given difference between men and women” that makes “an adult male wanting to work in daycare with small children” seem odd?

            Do not fathers and grandfathers and uncles have just as much stake in raising and nurturing and teaching their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews as mothers, grandmothers and aunts?

            Why should teaching be of a different category?

        1. Tom, I see people on the street, I have no facts about those people and just by looking at them I would never leave a child with them. I don’t need all the facts to keep a child safe. When my children were growing up they had sleep overs. In todays profane culture I would not let my child go to a sleep over. I wouldn’t get in a car with someone that appeared intoxicated even though not having all the facts they might not be. I can use my best judgement and that is not being judgmental.

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