I’m gonna make you cry this time.’ Lawsuit claims school bus aide abused child with autism
A mother says her autistic son was the victim of some troubling treatment. Tonight, 7News investigates with Brian Entin.
This 8-year-old with autism is on the same school bus he rides every day, but the man with him is not his regular bus aide.
You hear the boy scream.
Police say the aide grabbed the special needs child by the back of the neck to try and make him stay quiet.
Christopher Barker, bus aide: “I said stop. I said stop, right? Didn’t I say stop?”
Palm Beach County School Police say the bus aide pushed the weight of his body on top of the boy.
Bus aide: “Who’s stronger?”
Child’s mother: “It’s disgusting. There is just no other word I can think of than it is absolutely disgusting, and it just makes me physically ill.”
Police say the aide, Christopher Barker, jerked the boy’s head and drove his elbow into the child’s back.
Christopher Barker: “I’m gonna make you cry this time.”
Child: “Oh God!”
Christopher Barker: “It hurt? Sit back.”
Child’s mother: “The purpose of a bus attendant is to make sure those children are safe on the bus, and that man did the exact opposite.”
It happened in 2015, but the video is being released for the first time.
The boy’s mother is now suing the Palm Beach County School District and the bus aide.
In a police interview, the aide claimed he was never told the 8-year-old had autism.
Christopher Barker: “They said I was handling him aggressively. I was like, ‘Yeah, I was handling him aggressively.’ I didn’t lie about it, because when I was telling him to sit down, he wouldn’t sit down. So I just … I didn’t even think — I just grabbed him.”
According to police, not only did he grab the boy, he also threatened him.
Christopher Barker: “Every time you’re misbehaving, this is what you’re gonna get.”
A police detective said there was probable cause to charge the bus aide with aggravated child abuse. The case was forwarded to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, but prosecutors decided not to charge him.
Child’s mother: “How could you not watch that video and know that he was abusing him with the intent to harm him?”
Prosecutors decided that the “actions cannot be condoned; however the facts of this case do not support a criminal charge of child abuse.”
The bus aide resigned days before the school district recommended firing him.
Elizabeth Parker, mother’s attorney: “It’s very obvious that this was a special needs bus. He can’t claim ignorance.”
The bus aide did not answer his door after initially agreeing to talk to 7News.
Christopher Barker: “Take it like a man. You’re not a man. You’re a boy.”
The school district is not commenting because of the lawsuit, but says this incident highlights why cameras on school buses are so important.
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