Tag Archives: Special Needs

Autistic Child Left Outside Before Death In Icy Pool

.jpg photo of autistic child left outside before death
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.

Three People Accused Of Abuse At MD School For Disabled

.jpg photo of employee at special needs school accused of child sex abuse
Jermaine Thomas, 35

Employees for Private Special Education School Arrested on Child Abuse,
Sex Assault Charges

FREDERICK COUNTY, MD  –  Three employees at a private special education school in Frederick County, Maryland, were arrested Wednesday on child abuse and sexual assault charges.

.jpg photo of employee at special needs school accused of child sex abuse
Ariel Eppard, 27

A grand jury indicted 35-year-old Jermaine Thomas, 27-year-old Ariel Eppard and 32-year-old Wesley Dean in late August.

.jpg photo of employee at special needs school accused of child sex abuse
Wesley Dean, 32

They worked at The Jefferson School, a day school and residential treatment center for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.

Frederick County prosecutors say the suspects abused a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman who were students at the school.

A spokesperson for the school said administrators took immediate action and notified police and Child Protective Services when they heard of allegations against the employees.

Thomas was charged with three counts of sex abuse of a minor and seven counts of child pornography/filming a sex act.

Eppard faces two counts of sex abuse of a minor, two counts of fourth-degree sex offense (person in position of authority) and two counts of a court-ordered provider engaging in a sex act.

Dean was charged with sex abuse of a minor, fourth-degree sex offense (person in position of authority) and two counts of court-ordered provider engaging in a sex act.

Dean, Eppard and Thomas were placed on leave and later fired, the spokesperson for the school said.

TN Special Needs Child Roughed Up And Abused

.jpg photo of teacher charged with Child Abuse
Bonnie Conn, 49

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.