Teacher's aide accused of assaulting student with autism

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Disturbing allegations against a Chesterfield teacher's aide who police said grabbed a student with autism with enough force to cause significant bruises.

According to police, the 6th grader had bruises on her arms as well as on and around her nose.

The child is a non-verbal student with autism.

But police said communication wasn't really necessary because most of the assault was caught on tape.

Chesterfield Police Captain David Pritchard said the law allows some touching by teachers in the schools but a teacher's aide at Matoaca Middle went too far March 7.

"What occurred here was just over the top and wasn't what was in the permissible bounds. It just shouldn't have occurred," said Captain Pritchard.

Pritchard couldn't release the video but said a camera in gym class captured Jan Costley assaulting a 12-year-old girl with autism.

Pritchard said Costley, who's worked for Chesterfield schools since 2003, was assigned to help the girl during class, along with another special needs student.

"The class was playing some games, they were using a bean bag toss," said Captain Pritchard.

Police described what happened on the video from the gym.

Police said Costley is seen yanking on the girls arms several times, and it appears the girl is in pain.

"In addition, the child eventually developed in the course of a couple of days significant bruising to the nose and around the nose area," said Captain Pritchard.

Pritchard said they can't determine how the facial injuries happened because at one point the two step out of camera range.

But Pritchard said there was no need for such force by Costley.

"There does not appear to be any basis for force to be used on the child," said Captain Pritchard.

I went to Costley's house on Hickory Road to get her side but no answer.

Pritchard said Costley was suspended.

The district released this statement:  "These are serious charges and the employee has not been working for the school division pending disposition of the charges."

Costley has an emergency protective order against her requested by her father nine years ago.

According to the court document her father evicted Costley claiming he feared for his wife and grandson's safety.

A separate Child Protective Services investigation is underway in the assault case.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Costley could face up to one year in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Costley goes to court next month.

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