Category Archives: Special Needs

TN CPS Covered Up Abuse Of Special Needs Child

.jpg photo of nurse arrested for abuse of special needs child
Melissa Winer, 44, homecare nurse arrested and charged for abuse of Special Needs Child.

Caught on Cam: Nurse arrested for
Child Abuse

CLARKSVILLE, TN  –  A Tennessee nurse has been charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

The victim’s mother, Jo’Vanna Williams, released surveillance video of the alleged abuse.

.jpg photo of family of special needs child abused by nurse
Sunshine Williams, 12, with Family and neighbor.

Her daughter’s homecare nurse, identified as 44-year-old Melissa Winer, appears to push 12-year-old Sunshine Williams to the floor and grab her by the hair and arm to pull her up.

In another surveillance video, the nurse puts a blanket over Sunshine’s face.

Family friend Sharon Edwards says Sunshine is a beautiful soul and that she doesn’t let cerebral palsy and other health conditions keep her down.

When the incident happened, Jo’Vanna Williams reported it to the Department of Children’s Services, who closed the case after deeming the incident a policy violation.

The incident didn’t make it to police until a local paper posted the video online months later.

Shortly after, Clarksville police officers arrested Winer for aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Jo’Vanna and Sunshine Williams want people to know about the incident so that similar cases don’t slip through the cracks.

Autistic Child Left Outside Before Death In Icy Pool

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Samuel Koets, an autistic Child that functioned as an 18-month-old, and was a nonverbal child.

Man to stand trial for Child Abuse after
son’s death

HUDSONVILLE, MI  –  The father accused of manslaughter in his son’s death was ordered Friday to stand trial for two counts of child abuse.

In a Hudsonville courtroom, Judge Judy Mulder dismissed a third count – child abuse in the presence of another child — that Timothy Koets faced.

.jpg photo of michigan autistic child in icy pool before his death
Samuel Koets, an autistic Child, in icy pool just before his death.

“(Koets’) daughter was not present when (Samuel Koets) was left on the porch,” Mulder said in court Friday afternoon.  “So the acts the defendant did to commit the child abuse in this case — the act of leaving his child alone on the porch unsupervised — was not done in the present of a child.  It’s very unfortunate that his daughter had to find her brother alone in the pool in the way she did, but the act of child abuse ….  was not done with the other child present so I am not able to find that there’s probably cause to bind over on count 3.”

Mulder did, however, bound Tim Koets over on two child abuse counts, one of which is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

“The facts presented that supported this at the time of the preliminary examination were that Samuel was left on a porch unattended, that the defendant did not assure that his wife was awake to care for Samuel,” said Mulder from the bench.

“There was some testimony that he awoke her.  There was also some competing testimony that he texted his daughter during the course of the time he was gone indicating that he thought his wife was sleeping.  I’m paraphrasing… but that’s how those texts read.  There was also testimony that Samuel Koets functioned as an 18-month-old, that he was a nonverbal child and that he was attracted to water.  So … a reasonable jury listening to those facts could find that this was a reckless act that caused a serious injury to his son, Samuel.  So, therefore I’m going to bind it over on count 2 (felony child abuse in the second degree).”

Mulder previously ordered Tim Koets to stand trial on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of his son Sam, 16, who had autism.

Sam drowned after climbing into the backyard pool at the family’s home near Hudsonville.  Authorities say his father, a professor at Grand Rapids Community College, left him unattended when he went to work on March 28, 2019.  When one of his daughters texted him that Sam was in the icy pool, he allegedly texted back, “would you make sure the freak is OK?”

Koets and his wife Michelle Koets told “Inside Edition” in an interview that aired earlier this week that he woke his wife up before he left for work but she fell back asleep.

“It is not a reckless act for one parent to leave a child in the care of another parent,” Koets’ attorney argued Friday before his client was bound over.  “He woke his wife up.  He thought she was awake.”

In the “Inside Edition” interview, the Koetses rejected the notion that Tim Koets was negligent or uncaring.  But investigators told News 8 that Sam Koets was also living in “disturbing” conditions before the drowning.

Outside the courtroom Friday, Koets’ attorney said while he knew Michelle Koets and a daughter had been contacted by “Inside Edition” and might do an interview, he did not know beforehand that Tim Koets would participate in the story.

“Had a discussion with my client and that will not be occurring again,” defense attorney David Kallman said.

Also Friday, both Tim and Michelle Koets were arraigned on charges that they kept filling their son’s Ritalin prescription for months after he died.  Authorities say they were taking the drugs themselves.

UPDATE – TN Teacher Charged With Child Abuse

.jpg photo of TN teacher accused of child abuse of a special needs child
April Chandler, 45

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.

TN Teacher Suspended, Charged With Child Abuse

.jpg photo of TN teacher accused of child abuse of a special needs child
April Chandler

Special Ed teacher arrested, charged with Child Abuse

HENDERSONVILLE, TN  –  A George A. Whitten Elementary School special education teacher was arrested and charged with child abuse.

According to Sumner County School officials, April Chandler was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

NewsChannel 5 is working to get the details of the incident from the affidavit.  We will update this story when more information becomes available.

Mother Of Sherin Mathews In Same Building As Wesley

.jpg photo of mother of Child found dead
Sini Ann Mathews was arrested on a charge of child endangerment.

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.