Daycare owner declares bankruptcy after sex assault lawsuits

Judge awards family $25,000 for mental distress, but they are unlikely to see a penny of it.

The owner of a Maple Ridge daycare has filed for bankruptcy after being sued in court by parents whose children were repeatedly molested by her husband.

Breshna Tata’s declaration in early September brings all court proceedings to an end. It means one family is unlikely to see a penny of the $25,000 in damages they were awarded by the court in July.

“It’s just so upsetting,” said the mother of another young girl, who is also suing Tata.

Latif Hamad Tata was sentenced to four years in prison in August 2013 after he admitted to sexually touching two girls, between ages two to four, at the now-closed Shining Stars Daycare.

Latif Tata faced a total of 12 charges – four counts each of sexual interference of a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault – but pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault.

The 40-year-old was also charged with sexually assaulting two other young children, but those charges were stayed as the victims were too young to testify.

Following the conviction, two families filed small claims lawsuits against Breshna Tata, seeking to recoup daycare fees they had paid to her.

In July, provincial court judge Patricia Janzen ruled in favour of one family, finding Breshna Tata had breached a contract by allowing her husband to care for the younger children while she was picking up the older children from school.

The family who sued had two children attending Shining Stars Daycare and both were assaulted by Tata.

“It is almost impossible to imagine a more egregious breach of a contract,” wrote Janzen in a judgement.

“The most fundamental term of any childcare contract is that the child is kept safe from physical, sexual and emotional harm.”

Although the family did not claim damages for mental distress, Judge Janzen found the breach warranted a larger award than ones previously issued by the courts.

Janzen delivered the highest penalty she could: $25,000.

“Short of the death of a child, it is hard to imagine circumstance more likely to cause anguish to a parent than the sexual assault of both her children,” she said.

“It is clear that the degree of suffering in this case was sufficient to warrant significant compensation for mental distress.”

In her ruling, Janzen found that Breshna Tata had failed to inform parents that she was leaving their children in her husband’s care.

Tata testified that she knew she was in breach of the terms of her daycare license, but thought that it was safe.

She told the court she wanted to please her school-aged children by picking them up herself. She trusted her husband and would never have knowingly allowed harm to come to any of them.

During cross examination, Tata acknowledged she believed her husband had sexually assaulted the claimant’s children.

She also indicated that she continued to love her husband and characterized his actions as a “mistake.”

The second family was set to fix a court date later this year, but says Tata’s recent filing for bankruptcy has put the entire process in jeopardy.

The small claims suit wasn’t about money, said the mother.

“This was our moment to face her in court,” she added.

Latif Tata was sentenced on 1 Aug. 2013 to four years in a federal penitentiary. He was credited for 218 days he spent in pre-sentence custody and is eligible for day parole this year.