UPDATE – Special Ed teacher arrested, charged with CA
HENDERSONVILLE, TN – A George A. Whitten Elementary School special education teacher was arrested and charged with child abuse.
According to Sumner County School officials, 45-year-old April Chandler was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
The arrest affidavit said an aide at the school told police Chandler forcefully and angrily grabbed a 5-year-old nonverbal autistic boy, causing him to have scratches and red marks.
The witness detailed another incident when Chandler was reading a story to the students as the young boy tried to sit in her lap. The affidavit says Chandler pushed the boy off of her and he fell down.
A second aide told officers Chandler was roughly changing the boy’s clothes. When the boy began to cry, she mocked the boy’s appearance.
After officers spoke with the school employees, Chandler was arrested on November 18. She has since been released on bond.
Chandler is expected to appear in court on December 11.
Sini Mathews Arrested On
Child Endangerment Charge
Dallas, TX – The mother of a North Texas toddler whose body was recovered last month from a drainage culvert weeks after she was reported missing was arrested Thursday on a charge of child endangerment.
Police said she and her husband left their 3-year-old adopted child, Sherin Mathews, home alone while they went to dinner just hours before they claimed she had disappeared.
Sini Ann Mathews, who has maintained her innocence in the death of Sherin, surrendered to Richardson police Thursday and is being held on $250,000 bond on the state jail felony charge.
She was arraigned Friday morning and did not respond to reporters questions when she was transferred to the Dallas County Jail Friday afternoon.
In a statement Thursday, Richardson police said detectives learned Sini Mathews, 35, and Wesley Mathews took their 3-year-old biological daughter to dinner and left Sherin alone at home, placing her in “imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”
“The time that they left, she was not under the care of any other adult or of any other person, she was left home alone by herself and it’s for that reason that you see this particular charge,” said Kevin Perlich, with the Richardson Police Department. “It’s not necessarily related to her death, it’s related to her care that she was being given while she was in that home.”
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, detectives used cell phone records to show Wesley and Sini went to a North Garland restaurant on the evening of Oct. 6. The theory is supported by a receipt obtained by police that showed the couple purchased only one child’s meal in addition to their individual meals as well as the testimony of a waiter who said only one child was present at the table.
During an interview with detectives, Wesley Mathews, 37, admitted to leaving Sherin home alone after growing frustrated she wouldn’t drink her milk and said they returned home about 90 minutes later and found her where they left her, in the kitchen.
Both Sini and Wesley told police the child was alive when they returned home from dinner, though police have not confirmed that information.
Hours later, on the morning of Oct. 7, Wesley Mathews called police and reported Sherin missing. In a story he would later change, Wesley originally told police Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 a.m. for not drinking her milk. When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.
Weeks later, Wesley Mathews changed his story and said he “physically assisted” her in drinking her milk and that she choked and died at the home. He said he then moved the girl’s body and later called police to report her missing.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office is still working to determine what killed Sherin Mathews.
Sini Mathews said she was sleeping when Sherin disappeared and was unaware of what took place overnight between the child and her father.
Meanwhile, Wesley Mathews remains jailed on a charge of felony injury to a child and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Sini Mathews’ attorney has maintained throughout the investigation she had nothing to do with her daughter’s death and that she was distraught during her daughter’s disappearance.
NBC 5 confirmed Friday that at some point in the last month Sini Mathews was terminated from her job at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where she worked as a case manager.
On Thursday, her attorney Mitchell Nolte thanked Richardson police for allowing his client to surrender.
“We learned this morning that the Richardson Police Department had obtained an arrest warrant for Sini Mathews for the offense of Abandoning/Endangering a Child. The police were professional and courteous and allowed us to bring Mrs. Mathews to the Police Department and surrender herself into custody,” Nolte said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Wesley Mathews’ attorney, David Kleckner, said his client loves his children and wife and that he’s a good family man who wants custody of their surviving daughter to be returned to her mother.
Sini Mathews was in court as recently as Monday asking for custody of the couple’s child to be returned to her, but that hearing was rescheduled 1 p.m. Nov. 29.
The couple’s surviving child has been in foster care since shortly after her sister’s disappearance. The child was expected to be placed in the care of family in the Houston area following Monday’s hearing.
Former Clarksville kindergarten teacher
arrested on Child Abuse charges
Clarksville, TN – A former kindergarten teacher in Clarksville has been arrested on child abuse charges.
Bonnie Conn, 49, who taught kindergarten at St. Bethlehem Elementary School, is charged with two counts of child abuse.
According to the sheriff’s office, Conn was arrested Wednesday and was being held on $15,000 bond.
Earlier this month, the mother of a student filed a federal lawsuit against the Clarksville-Montgomery County Board of Education and Conn claiming that her autistic son was mistreated by Conn after a video surfaced which showed Conn dragging the boy out of her classroom by the arm on two occasions.
A Montgomery County grand jury returned an indictment this month, charging Conn with two counts of child abuse. According to the indictment, Conn abused a child under the age of 8 “so as to adversely affect the child’s health and welfare” on Jan. 23 and Jan. 27.
The indictment does not identify the child or mother in the criminal case, but the dates correspond with those involving the autistic child.
According to the federal lawsuit, Feltonas Wells is the mother of a 6-year-old student who was placed in Conn’s classroom at the school in the fall of 2016.
The lawsuit alleges that the child’s Constitutional rights were violated among other issues.
The child is diagnosed with severe Autism syndrome and qualified as a student with “developmental delay” based on Tennessee Department of Education guidelines.
Wells first became concerned about the “sad faces” her son was receiving on his daily chart reportedly for poor behavior in class.
On Feb. 2, 2017, Wells went to the school to drop off another child and found that her son was being punished by being forced to lay on a cot isolated from the classroom and facing away from the teacher and other students.
She removed the boy and took him home.
The next day her son begged his mother not to make him go to school because “he didn’t want to be bad anymore,” according to the lawsuit.
A principal called and said he would be assigned to a new teacher so his mother returned him to school.
On Feb. 9, Wells received a phone call from Principal Melisse Williams, who seemed to be crying as she told the mother that she witnessed video footage of her son being pushed by Conn and had reported the abuse to the Department of Children Services, according to the lawsuit.
On Feb. 10, Wells went to the school and was allowed to view a surveillance camera outside Conn’s classroom.
“To Ms. Wells’ shock and surprise, the video revealed Ms. Conn violently dragging (the boy) out of the classroom by one arm and then pushing him with her foot to get him out of the doorway,” the lawsuit said. “She then shut the door causing it to strike (the boy) on his head. Ms. Conn left (the boy) alone in the hallway and returned to her classroom. (The boy) is shown holding his head and crying following the physical assault.”
When Wells asked why her son was put back in Conn’s classroom, she was told that Conn was undergoing anger management counseling and the number of students had been reduced so she would not become overwhelmed, the lawsuit said.
Wells removed the boy from the school and enrolled him in another local school.
According to Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools Spokeswoman Elise Shelton, Conn was hired in 2005, placed on alternative work site on Feb. 10 and resigned Feb. 16.
LITTLESTOWN, PA – Four employees of a residential treatment program for children in Adams County are charged after police say they failed to report the sexual abuse of a child.
The employees of Hoffman Homes for Youth in Littlestown also failed to seek medical attention for the boy after he was sexually assaulted by another resident in November, state police said in charging documents.
Glenn Nace, 27, of Hanover; Antonio Hill, 23, of Chambersburg; Guy Joseph, 52; and Timothy Speelman, 31, both of Gettysburg, are each charged with failure to report child abuse, a second-degree misdemeanor, and endangering the welfare of children, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Adams County Assistant District Attorney Megan Zei said the four were all mandated reporters of child abuse.