Why Day Care Child Abuse Lawsuit at Georgia Base Was Tossed, How It Could Affect Another Case

Robins Air Force Base front gate sign.
Robins Air Force Base front gate sign. (U.S. Air Force photo/Edward Aspera)

A recent federal lawsuit over child abuse at Robins Air Force Base is on pause, as a federal judge has decided to let a similar case play out before carrying on with the suit against the federal government.

The lawsuit was filed in April by family members of a child allegedly subjected to abuse by employees at a daycare at the Warner Robins military facility. These allegations have led to criminal charges and guilty pleas for some of those working at the facility. An older, similar case was dismissed but is under appeal. The judge in that case acknowledged the mistreatment but took issue with the government's liability in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Ross argued in a court document that the appeals court's ruling on the other case, which was originally filed early last year, will help determine if the anonymous family in the more recent case can make a legal claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which compensates people who have suffered harm from a federal government employee.

Both lawsuits, which were filed anonymously by the parents of the abused children, accuse Zhanay Kiana Flynn and Antanesha Mone Fritz of striking kids in the face and causing them to fight with one another. Flynn and Fritz were both employees at the daycare facility. The lawsuits also accused them of spraying children's heads and faces with cleaning solutions, applying weight to their legs and more, according to the lawsuit.

Both lawsuits also accuse the manager of the daycare center, Latona Mae Lambert, of failing to report the multiple incidents and claims of the alleged child abuse in the facility.

Although Flynn, Fritz and Lambert were mentioned in both lawsuits, the families are only suing the U.S. government, not the employees. The families faulted the government for failing to remove the three, not monitoring surveillance, and not documenting the concerns and reports of child abuse in the facility. The families also argued in the lawsuit that the U.S. government didn't make itself aware of the abuse and violated policies designed to protect children.

Why a federal judge dismissed a similar case

The latest lawsuit will await the appeal of a prior lawsuit because the prior complaint was dismissed by a federal district court.

Ross, who's defending the federal government in both cases, argued in court documents that the family in the earlier case failed to state a proper claim, alleging the child abuse claims are not torts accepted under the federal act.

Ross also argued that the families suing the government didn't prove the abuse was foreseeable and so they couldn't prove the U.S. failed to protect the children.

The judge who oversaw the case, Marc Treadwell in the Middle District of Georgia, agreed with the U.S. and dismissed the lawsuit from last year. But he still slammed the activities alleged.

"The conduct alleged here is outrageous," said Treadwell in his ruling. "Thus far, two government employees have pled guilty to the 'care' they provided to the plaintiffs' children. Perhaps those children should be afforded a remedy, but none is provided by the Federal Tort Claims Act."

Flynn, Fritz and Lambert were criminally charged in 2022 for the abuse that took place in the daycare at Robins Air Force Base. Fritz and Flynn pleaded guilty to cruelty to children charges on May 9 last year and are expected to be sentenced July 27.

Lambert's case went to jury trial in front of Judge C. Ashley Royal in April. Although the jury didn't find Lambert guilty of being an accessory after the fact or making false statements, they found her guilty of failing to report child abuse. Her sentencing date has not been scheduled yet.


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