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ASPartOfMe
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08 Feb 2024, 9:15 am

Therapist acquitted in case involving boy with autism at Greensburg day care

Quote:
Tonya Piper said she will not return to her career caring for special needs children even after a jury found her not guilty of an alleged assault against a boy with autism.

Piper, 52, of New Stanton was emotional after the verdict was returned Wednesday and said she was grateful jurors believed she intended no harm to the child placed in her care in February 2022.

“I didn’t do anything and I told the truth,” Piper said. “I loved him and I did everything I could for this child, everything that’s right. You’re doing everything you can to help a child then get prosecuted.”

Jurors deliberated just 25 minutes before returning not guilty verdicts on three counts: aggravated assault, simple assault and child endangerment. Piper was accused of slamming a child into a chair, shoving him into a table and covering his mouth during a incident at Cooley Day Care at the First Presbyterian Church in Greensburg.

Prosecutors claimed Piper, a special needs therapist for Family Behavioral Resources, injured the child as she attempted to restrain him during an outburst at the day care. Jurors reviewed security video of the alleged incident during their brief deliberations before they returned the not guilty verdict.

Piper testified she did nothing wrong while caring for the child.

“I tried to gently take his hand and walk him over to the table and gently put him into the chair,” Piper testified.

Defense attorney Heidi DeBernardo Norton told jurors the video of the incident supported Piper’s claims.

DeBernardo argued prosecutors presented no evidence the child was injured and no supporting testimony from other coworkers at the day care who claimed they saw the child mistreated.

The assault allegations were initially reported by a speech therapist who claimed she watched as Piper assaulted the child. Cassandra Colligan testified Piper used enough force to cause the chair where the child was placed to push into a table, prompting the boy to “wince.”

Norton said Colligan overreacted and misinterpreted what she witnessed.

“My client wasn’t trying to hurt this child because he was not hurt. What she was trying to do was get this child in his seat,” Norton said.

Prosecutors said the boy’s injuries likely healed before police began the investigation about three weeks after the incident.

The child’s mother testified her son had difficulty communicating and for several weeks resisted going to the day care. She said she noticed a bruise on the child’s arm in late February but was not aware an incident at the day care until she was notified by police on March


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Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

It is Autism Acceptance Month

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


CockneyRebel
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17 Feb 2024, 1:20 am

Women like her make me lose faith in humanity.


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