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Former child care center owners sue diocese

Published: Thu, June 19, 2014 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



The former owners of a child day-care center at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New Middletown have sued the church and church officials.

They allege the officials breached the center’s lease and wrongly evicted the center’s owners because the center’s administrator married a man who was convicted of an attempted sex offense against a minor.

Besides the church, defendants are the Rev. Stephen Popovich, church pastor, and Bishop George V. Murry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.

The civil lawsuit was filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court by Atty. David L. Engler on behalf of St. Paul’s Childcare Center and its former owners, Linda Davis, and her daughter, Nicole Davis Fairchild, both of Austintown.

The complaint, which demands a jury trial, seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Father Popovich terminated the child-care center’s lease and barred Davis and her daughter from the premises Oct. 25, 2013, forcing the sale of the business “at a distressed cost,” and causing Davis Fairchild to lose her job as child-care administrator, the suit says.

The church and its pastor “joined in a mob-like rush of judgment to push plaintiff corporation out of business based upon irrelevant and untrue statements,” the complaint says.

The church and its pastor forced the sale of the business because Davis Fairchild married a man with a criminal past, the complaint alleges.

In July 2011, Davis Fair-child married Eric R. Fair-child, who had been sentenced by Judge Maureen A. Sweeney in December 2010 to five years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to attempted gross sexual imposition on a female minor.

The judge also fined Fairchild $1,000 and ordered him to serve the first year of the probation on electronically monitored house arrest. He must register annually as a sex offender for 15 years.

In April 2011, Judge Sweeney terminated his house arrest eight months early; and last month, visiting Judge Thomas Pokorny terminated his probation 18 months early.

Robert Fulton, a lawyer for the diocese, initially declined to comment on the merits of Engler’s complaint, except to say: “It will be defended.”

Engler said Eric Fairchild “had no role whatsoever” in the day-care center’s operation and that the center’s state license was never in jeopardy because of his conviction.

“These people are being punished because of the spouse of the daughter,” Engler said of his clients, adding that: “The day care was well-run and successful.”

Linda Davis, who owned 90 percent of the business, “was not given an opportunity to remedy the situation,” Engler said.

“It was very hurtful to the two women who had worked hard to operate the successful business,” Engler said of their eviction.

“Concerns were raised by parents of children attending the center, and the church responded with sensitivity and fairness to all parties involved,” Fulton later said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

The church leased space to the day-care center in a landlord-tenant relationship, and the church had no control over the center’s operation, he explained.

“The church exercised its contractual right to terminate the lease by giving 90 days written notice. There was no intent or motivation to punish anyone,” he added.


1daar2055(54 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

The church acted responsibly on behalf of the children it's ashame that a person would jeopardizing others well being. No one can predict the future when it comes to any kind of criminals. Don't care who the hurt or how. And Atty. Engler what a hypocrite you are.

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2paulydel(1477 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

What kind of person marries a child molester and not expect the church to take action? I hope the church wins.

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3DwightK(1384 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

I would not have left my kids in their care if I had known one of the operators was married to a sex offender.

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4UNCOMMONSENSE(543 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Well said daar2055.

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5kleener(50 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Does this make SNAP Judy proud?

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6kensgirl(840 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

It's a proven fact that sex offenders can't be rehabilitated. Shut them down.

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7pgurney(292 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

They will most likely just open another day care.

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8Askmeificare(803 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Incredible the church,whom seemingly runs its own pedophile program, suddenly 'discovers' an issue.

Come on. I'm of the opinion the church wants more of its own secrecy in its pedophile operations. Check out ANY public media as it is no secret the church has run pedophile programs including hiding the accused priestly pedophiles themselves.

I would like to see more articles regarding the priests who steal from the collection plate that HAVE gotten caught.

And ALL catholics are supporting the churchs' pedophile stance by supporting ANY church.

Amazing that churchgoers will TRY to standup for crimes involving the church.

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9TERRAPINST(319 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

So let me get this straight. The administrator, who to have such a certification had to successfully pass an extensive background clearance, was locked out of the business she had a contract to maintain because her HUSBAND was convicted?!?!?! No allegations of abuse were ever presented just that her husband had a background issue? He was not employed there and they shut down HER business? So you are not allowed to have any association with anyone ever convicted of such a crime? Yeah that's a good Christian -American philosophy. If he violates probation do they get to send her to jail as well. Diocese better just write that check.

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10UNCOMMONSENSE(543 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Askmeificare.. so anyone that does business with a company or organization that has an employee that did something wrong is just as wrong?? I guess since I purchased a GM auto I am part of the recall cover up and support it. Thank God you are not a Catholic..

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11JudyJones(157 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

We suspect Youngstown Catholic officials did the right thing here. But why won't they act with similar decisiveness against their own child molesters? (There are over ten of them who worked in this diocese)
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes anywhere in day care centers and employees in schools and churches to contact police. And especially the Youngstown diocese should warn others about sex offenders.

Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems, so silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others
Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511,
SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

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12TERRAPINST(319 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

GDOG 1362 comments to prove you are an idiot when it would have only taken 1

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