St. Martin bus driver gets ‘slap on the wrist’ in disabled girl’s assault, grandfather tells judge
Judge Robert Krebs on Monday delayed the prosecution of a former a St. Martin Middle School bus driver accused of assaulting a disabled girl so he could view the surveillance videos before making a decision.
He reset the plea hearing for Antioinette Jane Raymond for Aug. 6.
Raymond was set to enter no contest pleas to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and contributing to the delinquency, neglect or abuse of a child.
The sentencing recommendation was a fine of $2,000, a six-month suspended jail sentence and one year of probation.
Raymond began to cry when the judge said he did not have to follow that recommendation and would wait until he reviewed the videos to issue a ruling.
The judge made the decision after Thomas Pearce, the special education student’s grandfather, questioned why only misdemeanor charges resulted in the case against Raymond and former special education teacher Kerri Anne Nettles.
“This lady and her accomplice physically abused my special needs granddaughter,” Pearce said. “This lady (Raymond) right here threatened to kill and strangle her.
“I can assure you when you see that tape (judge), you are going to be just as mad as everyone else was in my eyes. I don’t see how it can be a misdemeanor for my special needs granddaughter who cannot take care of herself ... or speak for herself. “
Krebs pointed out he had no control over the grand jury indicting the driver or former teacher on misdemeanor offenses, but assured Pearce he would review the videos and make a decision from there.
The teacher was fined
Raymond’s attorney, Keith Pisarich, pointed out the former special education teacher involved had already been sentenced in her case, resulting in a fine and suspended jail sentence even though Pisarich said the teacher’s actions “were more severe” than what Raymond had done.
The judge told Pisarich a review of the tapes would happen before he made a decision.
“No one may like my decision, including you,” Krebs told the attorney.
A grand jury indicted Raymond, the former bus driver, and Nettles, on misdemeanor charges of assault and contributing to the delinquency, neglect or abuse of a child.
Nettles pleaded no contest to assault and contributing to the neglect of a child in May. A judge fined her $3,000 in addition to giving her the suspended jail sentence.
‘I’m gonna kill her’
In school bus surveillance video from the 2014-15 school year, Raymond threatens to take the girl to jail, choke her and kill her if the girl doesn’t keep her voice down and stop moving around.
Another time, Raymond gets angry because the girl won’t quiet down.
When Raymond and the teacher hear the girl say what they believe is profanity, Raymond races over to the girl’s seat and sits on her lap.
“Now, go ahead, move, big girl,” she yelled as she pushed the child further into the seat with her backside.
“Go ahead, move, move,” the driver said. “Can you move now? Huh? You going to shut that mouth, huh? You going to holler anymore? You do it again, I’m going to warn you again. You better shut your mouth. You hear me? You hear me?”
The girl also calls out for her Paw Paw and says she wants to go home.
Raymond told the girl her Paw Paw was gone.
“Paw Paw is gone,” she said. “He left you. He left you.”
The Jackson County School District fired both women.
The assault was not reported to the state Department of Education, despite a mandate to do so.