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Tulsa County jury awards $2 million verdict to family of child injured at day care center

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Meredith Allison Howard

Related: Child abuser released after judge suspends prison term


Correction

An earlier version of this story erroneously described the type of damages awarded by the jury. The error has been corrected.


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A Tulsa County jury awarded $2 million in compensatory damages to the family of a toddler who was sexually assaulted at a Tulsa church day care facility in 2008.

Late Friday the jury agreed that Kirk of the Hills Church acted in reckless disregard for the safety of children by not advising John Knox Presbyterian Church that day care worker Meredith Howard was under investigation regarding allegations of child abuse, according to a statement from attorney Pat Carr.

Howard, 41, was initially sentenced to a 12-year prison term for abusing two young children at both day care centers in 2012. In December District Judge William Kellough modified the sentence to a 14-year, one-month suspended sentence and ordered Howard be placed in a residential treatment facility in Arizona for two years.

Howard was charged with injuring an eight-month-old boy on Dec. 8, 2008, at a day care affiliated with Kirk of the Hills, 4102 E. 61st St.

In November 2010 Howard, while working at John Knox Child Development Center, under the operation of John Knox Presbyterian Church, 2929 E. 31st St., was accused of inserting her finger into the vagina of a 19-month-old girl while changing her diaper. A pediatrician said the girl’s injuries were severe and required surgery.

Carr argued that staff at Kirk of the Hills withheld information from John Knox Child Development Center, who hired Howard as a day care worker.

After the verdict, Kirk of the Hills pastor Wayne Hardy said the church would review its policy concerning references it provides about its day care workers.

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