DHHS suing former day care operators where children were sexually abused

Posted Sept. 18, 2013, at 5:16 p.m.
Horace Barstow
Somerset County Jail
Horace Barstow

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — The Department of Health and Human Services has filed a civil lawsuit against a couple who ran a Norridgewock day care where multiple children were sexually abused, according to court documents.

Horace Barstow, 67, who worked at the day care owned by his wife, pleaded guilty to four felony charges in Skowhegan District Court in June. He was indicted on three Class B charges of unlawful sexual contact against three children on June 6. He pleaded guilty to an additional charge of Class C unlawful sexual contact against a girl under the age of 14.

Barstow was sentenced to 10 years in Maine State Prison with all but four years suspended. He will have 10 years of probation and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Barstow and his wife, Barbara, are both named in the suit, which the state filed on behalf of a 5-year-old victim. ABC 123 Daycare was operated out of the couple’s home in Norridgewock. It was shut down shortly after charges were brought against Horace Barstow in March. Barbara Barstow was not charged in connection with the criminal case.

The suit does not specify a dollar figure for damages.

The plaintiff seeks “judgment against [the defendants] in such amount as the Court may determine, plus interest and costs,” according to the complaint filed in Somerset County Superior Court on July 29.

The incidents involving the first three victims occurred between Nov. 1 and Dec. 7, 2012. The incident involving the fourth victim occurred between Sept. 2009 and June 2010.

DHHS, acting as guardian of a minor who attended ABC 123 Daycare and was assaulted by Horace Barstow, brought the civil action against the Barstows, according to the complaint.

The suit alleges that Horace Barstow touched the 5-year-old male victim inappropriately with his hand.

“The conduct of Defendant Horace Barstow was so outrageous as to exceed all bounds of decency,” Paul Sumberg, attorney for DHHS, wrote in his complaint. “By his outrageous conduct, intentionally or recklessly caused Plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress.”

As operator of the day care, Barbara Barstow is also named in the suit. Her husband worked at the home-based business.

“Defendant Barbara Barstow had a duty to protect such a child in her care from foreseeable harm, including the foreseeable conduct of third persons,” said the complaint. “[She] breached her duty to protect the child when she failed properly to supervise the conduct of Defendant Horace Barstow, when she knew, or reasonably should have discovered, that he sexually assaulted young children.”

In separate letters written to the court, both Horace and Barbara Barstow denied all the charges.

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