Woman Reportedly Tortures 'Special Needs' Students; Witness: Teacher Rubbed Against Child, Said 'Cry For Mama'
The first of several anticipated lawsuits against the Seminole County School Board and teacher Kathleen Garrett has been filed in federal court by the mother of an autistic student who is among several allegedly abused by Garrett in her class at South Seminole Middle school.
The woman and her son, identified in court documents only by the initials L.O. and J.V., are asking in excess of $75,000 in damages for abuses they say occurred, including repeated "physical restraints, beatings, slappings" and "non-consensual touching and excessive corporal punishment."
Garrett was arraigned earlier this week on five counts of child abuse.
The suit filed by Ricardo Reyes, a Boca Raton attorney, says Garrett and the school district failed to protect the handicapped boy who was in their care. The suit was filed in federal court under the claim that Garrett violated the boy's civil rights.
A 48-year-old teacher in Seminole County, Fla., is accused of torturing her autistic students, including allegedly rubbing a child's face in vomit and slamming another child's head so hard that he lost his front teeth, according to Local 6 News.
The Casselberry Police Department received information several weeks ago that South Seminole Middle School teacher Kathleen Garrett allegedly struck several students.
When police investigated, witnesses said she had battered the children who are unable to communicate well.
Witnesses told police that Garrett punched a student in the head for wetting his pants and grabbed another student by the back of the neck after he vomited and shoved his face into the vomit.
Garrett, who weighs 300 pounds, also reportedly pinned a special needs student facedown on his desk until he choked before two assistants reportedly jumped in to save the child, according to an arrest report.
Witnesses also said that Garrett rubbed her body against a child and repeatedly told him to "cry for mama."
Authorities said all of the victims have special needs and that Garrett was their primary caregiver.
Police believe that Garrett used threats, intimidation and bodily harm to physically and mentally control the disabled victims, Local 6 News reported.
Garrett was arrested Wednesday and charged with nine counts of aggravated child abuse on the special needs students in her classroom
Garrett was booked into the Seminole County Jail but released Wednesday night.
The parents of the involved children have been notified of the allegations.
South Seminole Middle School is located at 101 S. Winter Park Drive in Casselberry.
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