NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A civil suit was filed Tuesday against the Philadelphia Archdiocese and the St. Francis Learning Center in the case of a preschool teacher who abused three children between the ages of 2 and 3 years old.
Michael Barbee, 34, was sentenced to four to eight years in state prison after pleading guilty to charges of aggravated indecent assault of a child, among others.
Barbee worked at the Norristown preschool from 2016-2017. The lawsuit claims Barbee was hired despite having no experience or qualifications for the job and that he was not properly screened to see if he posed a threat to children.
St. Francis “knew or should have known of the particular risk posed by Barbee based on, among other things, his history of sexually abusing children, and his behavior indicative of an intent to isolate, groom and facilitate sexually abusing young boys and girls,” the lawsuit claims.
According to the lawsuit, Barbee sexually molested two girls and one boy in a school bathroom.
The abuse was discovered when the children complained of pain, with one child treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“This lawsuit is aimed at holding the Archdiocese of Philadelphia accountable for the horrific injury to these innocent children,” said Tom Kline, of Kline & Specter, PC, who, with partner David Inscho, is representing the parents of the three children.
The school did not disclose the sexual abuses to other parents at the school, according to the lawsuit.