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[April 24, 2013]
Mother of child in alleged bus assault speaks out
Apr 24, 2013 (Culpeper Star-Exponent - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- (Editor's note: It is the Star-Exponent's policy to not name underaged victims of a crime).
The mother of the 5-year-old autistic boy who was allegedly assaulted by two now former Culpeper County Public School employees -- according to the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office -- on a school bus says she's stunned the incident occurred but hopes those responsible learn from their mistakes.
Kathy Campbell, the mother of the now 6-year-old boy, says she knew something was wrong when her son came off the special education bus on Feb. 20, but never imagined it could have been this bad.
"I don't think it's really hit me yet," she said. "I'm trying to move forward and stay positive. I never thought it would happen to my kid." On Monday, the CCSO arrested Linda Rastall, 50, a CCPS former teacher's aide, and Betty Turner, 56, a CCPS former bus aide, in the alleged incident. Both were charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the CCSO.
According to Campbell, her son rides one school bus from Sycamore Park Elementary School to the Dominion Skating Rink along Route 229. There he transfers to bus 77, where the incident occured.
On that day, Campbell said that someone took a magic wand from her son, causing him distress. She pointed out that autistic children have an attachment to possessions, and when his wand was taken from him, he began to cry.
Campbell says the incident was taped on the bus's video camera, but that it was not discovered until several days later. She says she emailed the school to ask why her son came off the bus crying and saying "Miss [Betty] hurt me, she hurt me momma." The school said nothing occured there, but it wasn't until the following Monday that the incident was discovered by Stacey Timmons, e xecutive director of human resources for CCPS.
That's when Campbell said she and her ex-husband were called in to meet with the principals, Timmons and social services.
" The Culpeper School Division worked with the Culpeper Sheriff's Office and the Culpeper County Human Services Department to complete the investigation involving Ms. Rastall and Ms. Tuner," Timmons said in a written statement. "The two were employees of the school division but both resigned from their positions effective in February. As always our goal remains to provide our students and staff with a safe learning environment and we remain committed to that goal." Turner was employed with the school system as a bus aide beginning in October 2010, and she resigned in February. Rastall also resigned in February. She had been a para-educator since October 2003.
Campbell says she has not brought herself to watch the video, but her ex-husband has. Campbell said the video showed Rastall shaking her son, and then Turner holding him down.
Campbell says her son was limping for several days afterward and was examined by his pediatrician at Augusta Health Systems. There it was discovered he had damage to his knee.
According to the CCSO report, the assault on the child occurred after school while the bus was transporting students home for the day. The boy was upset and crying about a toy that had been taken away from him earlier. In turn, Rastall and Turner physically and verbally assaulted the child in an attempt to control him, causing injury, according to the CCSO.
The women charged in the assault were released on bond pending a May 8 appearance in Culpeper Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Campbell says she holds no ill will toward the ladies but prays they learn from the incident.
"I don't wish bad on anybody," Campbell said. "I hope God heals them and that they don't do this to any other child and they didn't do this to any other child before." April is also autism awareness month. Autism is a neurological disorder that impedes a person's social interaction and communication skills while causing restricted and repetitive behavior in some cases. But the spectrum is widespread, meaning one person could express his or herself verbally while another could be identified as non-verbal. According to the latest study, 1 in 50 children in America are diagnosed with autism.
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