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7 families file lawsuit alleging abuse, neglect against Crockett child-care center

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 12:04 PM CST
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Editor’s note: The attached video may be disturbing to some of our viewers.

CROCKETT, Texas (KTRE) - Seven families have filed a lawsuit against the Treehouse Academy child-care in Crockett that alleges repeated neglect and abuse of their children in 2020.

“Video surveillance obtained by the Crocket Police Department reveals that several employees at Treehouse Academy physically and verbally abused the children, violated the minimum standards for child-care centers required by the State of Texas, and failed to teach the agreed-upon curriculum,” a press release stated.

According to a press release, Treehouse Academy, which is owned and operated by Lindsay McCall Rice, was cited numerous times by the State of Texas for failing to meet minimum child-care center standards.

The lawsuit also alleges that the owner failed to hire qualified staff members and train the existing staff. It also claims that the owner failed to “adequately supervise and manage staff.”

The families also allege Treehouse Academy intentionally or negligently destroyed evidence, including video surveillance of the neglect and abuse suffered by the children,” the press release stated. “This ordeal shocked the families leaving lasting effects, including diagnoses of PTSD that dramatically affects their everyday lives and leaves them uncertain of the long-term impact.”

In May of 2020, three Treehouse Academy employees were arrested after a parent filed a police report, the press release stated. One employee’s background check revealed that she had a previous criminal record with charges of assault and family violence.

Shaquill Johnson, 29, Seklethia Jackson, 37, and Sabrina Griffin, 35, all of Crockett, were arrested and charged with state-jail felony abandoning or endangering a child, according to a previous East Texas News story.

“As previously stated, the Crockett Police Department initiated an investigation into the physical abuse towards children at the Tree House Academy,” a post on the Crockett Police Department Facebook page stated. “The initial investigation began with abuse allegations in the 2-3-year-old classroom, but we have since expanded the investigation to include all age groups and classrooms.”

A few days after the CPD’s initial Facebook post about the investigation, Johnson turned herself in to authorities.

As the investigation continued, the Crockett Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for a second employee of the Tree House Academy. Jackson turned herself in on April 27, 2020, the Facebook post stated.

Later, the Crockett Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Griffin as well, a previous East Texas News story stated. The warrant was obtained after Griffin was allegedly seen on video surveillance physically abusing more than one child on multiple occasions, the Facebook post stated.

A day after the arrest warrant was issued, Griffin turned herself in.

According to the press release, that employee was also found responsible for the respectful supervision of children after the investigation. The Treehouse academy allegedly failed to disclose the other two employees’ background checks. However, further investigation revealed that at least one of the other employees had prior instances of criminal conduct as well, the press release stated.

“The owner and director of Treehouse Academy made the decision to hire these individuals despite their criminal background,” said Bradley Leger, the managing partner of Leger Ketchum & Cohoon PLLC. “Regarding at least one employee, the State of Texas warned, ‘do not let this woman be alone in a classroom with children,’ but Treehouse Academy ignored this warning. As a result, multiple children were terrorized and repeatedly abused for months. I intend to obtain justice for these victims and to make sure that this facility never abuses another child.”

The trial is scheduled for April of 2022, the press release stated.

Previous stories: Crockett police obtain arrest warrant for daycare worker in connection with abuse allegations

Crockett police arrest 3 daycare workers as result of ongoing abuse investigation

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