JEFFERSON, Ga. — A Jefferson daycare teacher, who molested at least five children, is serving life in prison. But, many parents argue he is not the only one who should be punished.
They want to see the daycare’s owner held accountable.
“None of these children deserved any of this,” one parent tearfully said on the stand during Alex Tredway’s sentencing hearing.
Even though Tredway committed the crime, parents told 11Alive investigators he’s not the only one they blame.
“I personally do think they have some negligence here,” said parent Megan Twiddy, whose child was in Tredway’s class.
The parents' perspective
According to state documents obtained by 11Alive News Investigates, Tredway continued working at Bright Beginnings for three days after the molestation allegations surfaced. Those same documents said Tredway was left alone with the children during that time.
“He worked Monday, Tuesday and was picked up on Wednesday. He was with my child those days,” Twiddy said.
Another parent, Ashley Cruce, blames the daycare, too.
“To think that us, as parents, trust a facility to take care of our kids when we’re not there," Cruce said. "They weren’t there to protect them."
Cruce, Twiddy and Jessica Bentley are among a group of parents who hired an attorney to sue Bright Beginnings of Jefferson. They said they are not suing solely because of what happened after the abuse allegations surfaced.
“Nobody in their right mind would have hired him, not to work with children,” Cruce said.
Tredway was 17 years old when he got a job at Bright Beginnings in 2021. The state requires a criminal background check to hire, but since he was a minor, no crimes would have shown up.
Attorney Michael Ruppersburg said if the daycare dug a little deeper into Tredway’s school history, it would have found major red flags.
“His school record showed he had been caught having sex at school in the stairwell and in the bathroom multiple times," Ruppersburg said. "And, he had been disciplined, making multiple sexual comments to another student."
The owner's perspective
Those two reasons, Ruppersburg said, should have automatically disqualified Tredway from working with children.
“These are things that we found out afterwards. We didn't know either,” said Paula Healy, the owner of Bright Beginnings.
Healy said she never checked Tredway’s school history because the state doesn’t require her to. She also said she and her late husband, Bob Healy, didn’t pull Tredway out of the daycare because the staff spoke highly of him, and the cameras didn’t catch any abuse.
They determined the accusation wasn’t credible.
“We had found, that not to be true. And the police said they'd continue to let them work,” Healy said.
She added if the police had told her to no longer let Tredway work in the building, she would have pulled him out.
What happens now
The state wants to revoke Bright Beginnings' license, a move Healy is appealing. But even if she loses that license, it won’t prevent her from having another daycare. In fact, she already has another location, just down the road from Bright Beginnings called Bright Beginnings Too.
“I’m enraged,” Cruce said.
Cruce said she doesn’t understand how the state can allow this. Bentley agrees.
"They should never be able to have a daycare facility represented by them ever again,” Bentley said.
The parents said they want stricter standards from the state and more accountability for daycares in hopes of sparing other parents and children from this trauma.
During our interview with Healy, she said she planned to reopen Bright Beginnings. A few days later, she posted on Facebook saying she may sell it.
Now, she told 11Alive News Investigates she is contemplating going through with a sale. Nothing is signed yet.
"I haven't 100% decided if I am selling or not," she said in an email to 11Alive. "I have worked with children for 20 years and to let that go is a hard decision."
A judge is expected to make a decision about Healy's license in the next month.