Updated Mon, Aug 19, 2013 10:39 am
A Glouster man being sued by the families of sexually abused children has filed a response to the lawsuit and essentially denies any wrongdoing.
Thomas Shifflet, 76, was convicted earlier this year of gross sexual imposition against a child and later entered no contest pleas to gross sexual imposition against three other children. The no contest pleas were entered as Alford pleas, meaning Shifflet admitted prosecutors had enough evidence to convict but that he wasn’t admitting any wrongdoing. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
In June, a civil lawsuit was filed by two separate families of children who are now 5 and 6 years old. Both of those children attended a Millfield-area daycare center known as Jody’s Country Collectables and/or Down on the Farm Child Care, according to court documents.
The civil suit contends that Shifflet engaged in sexual assault and battery, gross sexual imposition and inappropriate sexual contact with the two children at those locations — which are owned by David Dearth and Jody Dearth (Shifflet’s daughter), respectively. During the criminal investigation, officials cited no wrongdoing on the part of Shifflet’s family.
The victims’ families are suing for in excess of $25,000, plus punitive damages.
Monday, David Dearth responded to the lawsuit, denying liability and denying the allegations against Jody’s Country Collectables. Defense attorney Mary Pisciotta cites a number of affirmative defenses, as well including assertions that the plaintiffs’ damages were “caused by superseding or intervening causes which (Dearth) had no control of” and that the complaint is barred by the statute of limitations. Pisciotta is asking for a jury trial to hear the case.
Shifflet answered the claim on Tuesday through attorney John Lavelle. He denies all of the allegations made against him in the civil suit, asserting that the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, that he wasn’t properly served with the lawsuit and that the plaintiffs have failed to join other parties to the action. Lavelle asks that the suit be dismissed or that a jury be assigned to hear the case.
Thursday, Jody Dearth filed her response through attorney William Scott Lavelle. She denies the allegations against Down on The Farm Childcare and asks for the suit to be dismissed.