ELYRIA — The mother of one of the children Heather Koon is accused of raping sued Koon on Tuesday and the Elyria day care center where she used to work, demanding more than $1 million in damages.
The lawsuit accuses ABC Kidz Child Care of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. Koon, who already faces a 32-count criminal indictment on charges including kidnapping and rape, is accused of civil battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the court documents filed in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.
Koon, 25, was arrested Oct. 4 after Lorain County sheriff’s deputies discovered video evidence on an iPhone and a laptop computer seized from her fiance, registered sex offender James Osborne, that prosecutors contend shows Koon raping the four victims in the case.
The electronic devices were seized as part of an investigation into whether Osborne was living at Koon’s Blaine Street home in Elyria rather than the Oberlin address he had registered with the county.
The lawsuit said that the victim in the case began attending the day care center in December 2011 when she was 2 months old and continued to go there until May 2013. The mother would drop off her daughter at the center while Koon was working the weekend shift.
“During the time that (the girl) attended ABC Kidz, (the mother) noticed that (the girl) was terrified of people, screamed in the bathtub, screamed during diaper changes, and was generally not loving,” the mother’s attorney, Chris Cook, wrote in the lawsuit.
The mother learned that her daughter had been molested when she was contacted Oct. 4 by Takara Madkins, the day care center’s director, who told her there was evidence of an assault, the lawsuit said.
A few hours later, Madkins called the mother again and asked her to “keep the matter ‘confidential’ in order that other parents would not get ‘upset,’” Cook wrote.
That appeared, the lawsuit said, to be an effort to conceal information about the sexual molestation.
“She was attempting to keep this under wraps,” Cook said.
An hour after the second call, deputies contacted the mother and asked her to look at a still photo from one of the videos and the mother identified her daughter’s face in the image.
Although Madkins did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday, attorney Carlos Johnson, who represents ABC Kidz, said he wasn’t surprised by the lawsuit.
Johnson said he doesn’t believe Madkins was trying to cover up anything and wanted the matter kept quiet because of the ongoing investigation. He said all the parents at the day care have been informed of the situation, including those who began bringing their kids to the center after the allegations against Koon became public.
The lawsuit also accused ABC Kidz of negligence for failing to protect the girl and for hiring Koon and for keeping her on as an employee.
Johnson said Koon had passed all the background checks necessary to do the job and had a history of being a good day care worker.
“She looked like a stellar candidate to work at any day care,” he said. “It’s not like she had any red flags.”
Prosecutors and deputies have said that they are still investigating whether there are victims at other day care centers that Koon has worked at over the years. All of the victims identified by investigators so far have been from ABC Kidz.
Dan Wightman, Koon’s lawyer, said he couldn’t comment on the lawsuit because he hadn’t seen it. Once he’s reviewed the documents, Wightman said, he will likely file a response.
“At this point we’re focusing on the criminal case,” he said.
Tuesday’s lawsuit probably won’t be the last to be filed in connection with the case.
Elyria attorney Paul St. Marie, who represents another victim’s family, said he too is examining the possibility.
“We’re going to investigate pursuing a civil remedy and whether that entails a lawsuit has not been determined,” St. Marie said.
Johnson said ABC Kidz couldn’t have foreseen the crimes Koon would allegedly commit.
“We’re not downplaying what happened to the children,” he said. “It’s sad, but everything was done appropriately to try to prevent that from happening.”