Eight families have filed a lawsuit against the Washington Hebrew Congregation, which operates the Edlavitch Tyser Early Childhood Center, claiming they did nothing to stop a teacher from sexually abusing their children for two years.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants enabled sexual abuse of children by Jordan Silverman, an assistant teacher who came to the preschool in 2016.
The 23 plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the school is liable for letting the sexual abuse, which spanned from March 2016 to August 2018, continue. They argue that they allowed and encouraged Silverman to be alone with the children, which violates Washington’s “two deep” policy that requires at least two adults to be present with children at all times at licensed child development centers.
“Essential protection against abuse of this type in a child-caring environment requires visibility and accountability of all adults present at all times,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants provided for neither.”
The lawsuit claims Silverman used “specific tactics against his victims, and targeted specific victims, to reduce the chance of detection.”
The Washington Hebrew Congregation sent a letter to parents in August that said they put an employee at its early childhood development center on administrative leave after there were allegations that the employee “may have engaged in inappropriate conduct involving one or more children.” However, they didn’t include the name of the employee in the letter.
The Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking and Domestic Violence group of the Washington-based law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll is representing the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.
“Silverman’s alleged behavior is only a part of this story,” Steve Toll, managing partner of the law firm, said in a statement. The preschool and Jensen “not only created an environment that enabled this predatory behavior but failed to act on a myriad of indications that something was wrong.”
A statement on behalf of the Washington Hebrew Congregation said the synagogue is carefully reviewing the complaint.
“Child safety has always been our top priority,” the statement said. It rejects allegations that the early childhood center violated the law or state regulations.
The lawsuit seeks an amount of compensation to be determined by a jury.