Viral day-care attack: Mom sues teacher, church

A mom was arrested on suspicion of violently assaulting a preschool teacher at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 12:32 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2023 at 1:16 PM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A mother filed a lawsuit nearly two years after she was recorded attacking a church day-care worker she accused of abusing her son.

Video of the confrontation – captured on surveillance recordings – went viral after it was released.

The lawsuit from Kasey Brooks names as defendants the day-care worker, June Barrow; St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church; and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah. Brooks also names her son, who was 2 years old at the time of the incident, as a plaintiff.

Brooks confronted and attacked Barrow on Sept. 1, 2021, after viewing videos the mom felt showed Barrow abusing her son.

A judge ultimately decided not to charge Barrow, and the misdemeanor battery charge against Brooks was dismissed Thursday morning after prosecutors confirmed she’d completed a six-month pretrial diversion program.

The lawsuit states that the boy at the time had significant speech and developmental delays and was presumed autistic.

Before enrolling her son in the “Mother’s Day Out” program at the church, the lawsuit states, Brooks went to an open house and discussed her son’s condition with a teacher named Sarah.

Brooks was assured that the program was appropriate for her son, the lawsuit alleges.

The teachers and supervisor didn’t communicate that the boy’s possibly autistic behaviors, such as repeated leg movements, would be cause for punishment, and they didn’t seek Brooks’ authorization to carry out punishment, the lawsuit alleges.

Barrow and Brooks did later discuss “time out” as an appropriate punishment if needed, the lawsuit states.

Brooks didn’t send her son on Aug. 12, 2021, because he’d injured his leg, so his first day was Aug. 16. However, Barrow called Brooks asking her to pick up her son early because he’d injured his leg “wrestling” with another child, the lawsuit states. he was unable to communicate with Brooks how he’d reinjured his leg.

On Aug. 31, the lawsuit states, “Mother spoke with Barrow upon arriving at the Church to pick up Minor. During their conversation, Barrow appeared to be angry claiming that Minor ‘kicked’ her and Barrow told Mother that she does not put up with that type of behavior.”

The lawsuit states that Brooks “became very uncomfortable” with Barrow’s description of her interaction with the boy, so Brooks asked to see video recordings of the classroom for the day.

“Concerned over Mother’s request to view the recordings, Barrow immediately told Durrwachter that she ‘resigned,’” states the lawsuit, which states that Barrow continued and continues to work for the program.

The lawsuit states that the church only allowed Brooks to view the recording for Aug. 31 and that Brooks believes the church destroyed recordings of prior days when the boy attended.

The lawsuit also alleges the recordings for Aug. 31 had been altered,“ including, but not limited to, cutting time from them.”

The lawsuit alleges the recordings show:

  • The boy expressing sensory processing challenges consistent with autism.
  • Barrow vacuuming in a class filled with 2- and 3-year-olds walking and running around the classroom.
  • Barrow hitting the boy with the handle of the vacuum after not stopping when she saw him walking toward her, then continuing despite knowing she’d hit him and seeing him rubbing his forehead.
  • Barrow, in an attempt to keep the boy still during story time, yanking the boy up by the arm and positioning him between her legs, “where she continues to yank him by the arm and grab the top of his head.”
  • The boy lying in front of a seated Barrow and moving his legs in a behavior consistent with autism. As he moves his legs, he kicks Barrow. “In response, the recordings show Barrow grabbing Minor by his ankles and lifting his body up in the air by his ankles while his head is precariously positioned on the ground and his neck is bent,” the lawsuit states.
  • “Barrow stepping on and maintaining her foot on Minor’s leg, which she knew had been previously injured, in what appears to be an attempt to hold Minor in place.”
  • “Barrow dragging Minor by one arm and then throwing Minor onto the rug forcing him to fall onto his knees.”
  • “Barrow spanking Minor on the bottom.”
  • The boy following Sarah and trying to climb into her lap, at which point she pushes him away with such force that he falls backward onto the floor. The boy falls over face-down and “Sarah does not reach out towards him to assist or comfort him,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges:

  • Barrow of “willfully, intentionally, and repeatedly” battered the boy through the actions outlined above.
  • The church and Barrow were negligent.
  • The church was negligent in hiring and supervision.
  • The church is vicariously liable.
  • Breach of contract by the church.
  • Infliction of emotional distress by the church and Barrow.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 2 in Columbia County Superior Court, asks for:

  • A jury trial.
  • Compensatory damages including, but not limited to, pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Reimbursement of tuition and any other fees owed.
  • Attorneys’ fees and expenses.
Kasey Brooks
Kasey Brooks(WRDW)

The charge against mom

Brooks had been charged with misdemeanor battery against Barrow, a case that was handled by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. The Columbia County DA recused himself because he’s a member of the church where the incident happened.

The charge against Brooks was referred to the pretrial diversion program, as is customary for misdemeanors and lower-level cases when a defendant has no criminal history, according to DA Jared Williams. Brooks has successfully completed the six-month program, including behavior modification counseling centered on anger management and conflict resolution. As a result, the misdemeanor charge has been dismissed.

“Ms. Barrow’s actions on August 31st, 2021 regarding Ms. Brooks’ child were unacceptable,” Williams said thursday in a statement. “Punishing Ms. Barrow through vigilante justice on September 1st, 2021 was also unacceptable. Neither action has any place in civilized society. To avoid further prosecution, both parties are expected to move forward conducting themselves with the decorum of model community members.”