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Day care worker ‘savagely’ beats toddler, causing paralysis, lawyers say. Parents sue

Two parents dropped their toddler off at a Tennessee day care, where an employee brutally beat the boy and caused “devastating” injuries, including broken bones, organ damage and partial paralysis, the family’s lawyers say.

Suman and Indrani Kundu’s son was napping on a cot shortly before the beating in the bathroom of the day care run by The Academy of Future Leaders LLC, which was a state-licensed facility, in Memphis in May 2023, according to a lawsuit filed Feb. 20.

“Instead of being cared for, their two-year-old was allegedly savagely beaten, and the next time they saw him, he was fighting for his life in the hospital,” the Morgan & Morgan attorneys representing the Kundus, John Morgan and William Hackett, said in a statement provided to McClatchy News on March 8.

Joe Craig, a day care employee, took the toddler to the bathroom around 12:30 p.m. and “subjected (him) to brutal physical abuse,” the lawsuit says.

By 12:47 p.m., the boy “was noted to be resting on his cot” until he had an apparent seizure within an hour, according to the lawsuit, which says 911 was called around 1:57 p.m.

The lawsuit accuses the Academy of Future Leaders of hiring Craig despite prior domestic violence accusations against him and says it didn’t call 911 to report the boy’s potential seizure soon enough.

Now the boy struggles to walk and is permanently injured, according to Morgan and Hackett. He has paralysis on the left side of his body and can no longer see out of his left eye, they said.

The Kundus are suing The Academy of Future Leaders for negligence and Craig for battery, seeking $25 million in damages, the lawsuit shows.

“May 18, 2023, will forever be etched in our memories as the worst day of our lives,” Indrani Kundu wrote in a GoFundMe for her son.

She said “he suffered a traumatic brain injury and extensive damage to his ribs, pancreas, stomach, gallbladder, bile duct, and small intestine.”

McClatchy News contacted the day care operator for comment on March 8 and didn’t receive an immediate response. Information regarding Craig’s legal representation wasn’t immediately available.

Criminal charges

In December, Craig was charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse, WMC-TV reports.

He was detained in Shelby County Jail on Dec. 13, according to records, which list the charges in connection with a May 18 offense, the day he’s accused of beating the toddler.

Before he was charged, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told WMC-TV that his office investigated the incident at the day care, the TV station reported June 20.

Craig faces a third count of aggravated child abuse stemming from a separate Nov. 28 offense, jail records show

McClatchy News contacted the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office on March 8 for more information and didn’t receive an immediate response.

The Academy of Future Leaders was licensed under the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Care and Community Services at the time the boy was beaten, according to the lawsuit.

It “is no longer operating as a licensed child care agency,” the department told McClatchy News on March 8.

The Academy of Future Leaders was located on the grounds of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

The university had a previous contract with the organization but terminated it after learning of the child abuse accusations, WMC-TV reported.

The Kundus are seeking millions in damages for emotional and mental anguish and their son’s past and future medical expenses, the lawsuit shows.

“Our clients’ son continues to suffer from debilitating injuries and will for the rest of his life,” Morgan and Hackett said. “We will hold each and every party to this attack accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Craig is due in court on March 13 for a hearing after he posted a $150,000 bond on Feb. 26, according to jail records.

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