A school bus assistant who was caught on video hitting a 10-year-old autistic student has been charged with two felony counts of child abuse.
The assistant, 57-year-old James Lambert, struck the child passenger of the bus twice on June 3. Lambert resigned from the school district after the incident, but criminal charges have now been filed.
“This was a school bus for children with physical and mental disabilities. The footage is awful and disgusting. Appalling is the word I would choose to use as a parent,” said Pasco County Officer Melanie Snow, according to the New York Daily News.
The incident took place in Florida’s Pasco County School District. The district’s spokeswoman, Linda Cobbe, was similarly disturbed by the former employee’s actions.
“It’s something that makes us sick to see our employees doing. It disgusts us. It’s horrifying that someone we trust and who the parents trust will abuse the helpless children with the power they have,” said Cobbe.
Lambert allegedly lashed out against the student after he began screaming, which those close to him have characterized as a symptom of his condition.
According to Bay News 9, the child’s family has hired attorney Jose Baez to represent them in the lawsuit. Baez is most well-known for representing Casey Anthony during her high profile case in 2011.
Baez has claimed that the family’s main goal is to create some sort of change within the school district policy to ensure that bus surveillance cameras are properly monitored and that family members of special needs students are notified when an incident occurs.
“I think that will be the ultimate goal here, to create some type of change. I know the Lamb family is very interested in that and if that is their goal, it’s certainly going to be our mission,” said Baez.