Morris Head Start and former teacher facing lawsuit over alleged sex assault of child

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A former Head Start teacher in Morris County awaiting trial on criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a toddler is now facing a lawsuit by a family claiming he abused its child.

The lawsuit filed by the girl's mother also accuses the Morristown-based community program for carelessly hiring Thomas Meier, 37, who they say sexually abused her daughter "on multiple occasions" during the 2018-2019 school year. The Daily Record is withholding the family's name due to the sensitivity of the allegations.

The program, which provides educational assistance to children from low-income families under the age of 6, failed to take appropriate and reasonable preventative actions and provide a safe environment for her child, the suit filed on Jan. 20 states.

"[Head Start] supervised and cared for any and all students in a highly negligent, careless and reckless manner so as to allow an environment which festered the harassment, abuse and sexual abuse," according to the suit.

A request for comment was not immediately returned by Head Start, a federal-run program under the umbrella of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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The mother, who is seeking unspecified damages, says that as a result of the school's negligence, her daughter suffered injuries that required extensive medical treatment that led to large medical bills.

The lawsuit is the latest in legal filings against Meier, who is facing criminal charges in Morris County Superior Court for allegedly sexually assaulting a different child in 2019.

Meier, a Mount Arlington resident, was arrested in October 2019 and charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child after authorities say a co-worker saw him engage in a sexual act upon a 3-year-old child. Three months after his arrest, he was offered a plea deal of three years in state prison, but he declined.

Meier was indicted in February 2021 on two second-degree charges, with prosecutors anticipating any plea offers would at minimum be five years in state prison.

His attorney, Paul Faugno, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Meier is expected back in court this week for a judge to hear oral arguments before it will head to trial in the coming months.

Lori Comstock can be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.

This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Morris County NJ Head Start sued for sexual assault of child

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