June 13, 2020

Families involved in a lawsuit demand Howard County police and state officials investigate alleged child abuse at a church day care.

In 2019, the families of five children aged 4 and 5 attended the Glen Mar Early Learning Center, an extension of the Glen Mar United Methodist Church in Ellicott City. The families believed their children were safe there, but according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of those children, an employee sexually abused them during naptime and possibly elsewhere at the facility.

The lawsuit does not list the employee as a defendant and the worker has not been criminally charged. Court papers implicate the school's former director, Lynda Celmer, who the families said was aware of the incidents but failed to report the abuse even though she was a mandatory reporter. The lawsuit says that Celmer told the families who reported the employee's actions that she would notify law enforcement and suspend the suspected abuser, but she did not. In fact, the lawsuit claims that Celmer had been informed of a different incident of abuse by another victim that had occurred during the previous school year involving the same employee.

"Not only did the Glen Mar Early Learning Center enable and ignore the sexual abuse of several children over two years, but we are very concerned that the law enforcement response has been incomplete and inadequate, allowing (the employee) to work in other daycare centers," said Michael Dolce, partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which represents the victims. "We do not understand why the Howard County law enforcement response disregarded such substantial evidence, including video and medical proof, failed to pursue additional leads and treated the victims' parents so poorly. Given that the safety of children was and is at stake, we expect a much more vigorous effort by law enforcement. These children and their families deserve better than they have gotten to date, and we hope this will now be taken more seriously."

The complete article can be accessed here.