Bus as­sis­tant, 51, charged with as­sault

Woman faces 22 felony counts in an at­tack on a stu­dent with autism.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Christo­pher Osher

A bus as­sis­tant turned her­self in to face crim­i­nal charges al­leg­ing she trau­ma­tized a stu­dent with autism and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties for sev­eral days by re­peat­edly as­sault­ing him and spray­ing a can of Lysol into his face.

Mon­ica S. Burke was ar­rested af­ter she turned her­self into the Boulder County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice on Thurs­day. Burke, who did not re­turn tele­phone mes­sages seek­ing com­ment, was re­leased af­ter post­ing a $10,000 bail.

Burke, 51, faces 22 felony counts of as­sault against an at-risk adult and 16 counts of care­taker ne­glect in Boulder County District Court.

A re­view of a week of sur­veil­lance video in Au­gust from the bus cap­tured the bus as­sis­tant re­peat­edly ter­ror­iz­ing the 20-year-old non­ver­bal autis­tic stu­dent who lives in Boulder and at­tends Fire­fly Autism, a school in Den­ver, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit from Long­mont Po­lice De­tec­tive Mark Cooper. Burke re­peat­edly kicked and hit the stu­dent and sprayed him in the face with the can of Lysol through­out the week while of­ten in­sult­ing him and ver­bally vic­tim­iz­ing him, Cooper said. “Dis­gust­ing,” she shouted to him once, ac­cord­ing to the video. “You’re so dis­gust­ing.”

The al­leged vic­tim did not make any ag­gres­sive moves to­ward Burke and “ap­peared to de­fend him­self as best he could when she ap­proached him or sprayed him,” the af­fi­davit states.

The mother of the al­leged vic­tim re­ported that around the same time her son de­vel­oped a skin ir­ri­ta­tion and be­gan pick­ing his skin and scratch­ing his back and neck to the point of bleed­ing.

A dis­parag­ing com­ment about his body odor from Burke prompted the autis­tic stu­dent to take “ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­forts” to make sure his body odor was as slight as pos­si­ble, the de­tec­tive added. The stu­dent would keep a can of de­odor­ant on the man­tle near the din­ing room of his home. Each morn­ing he would stand with his arms out­stretched wait­ing for the de­odor­ant to be ap­plied, the ar­rest af­fi­davit states, but Burke con­tin­ued to de­mean him and at­tack him. He al­ready was tak­ing two show­ers a day, the af­fi­davit added.

An eye doc­tor later re­ported to the de­tec­tive that spray­ing of Lysol in the face could po­ten­tially cause per­ma­nent eye dam­age, which might not show up un­til decades later.

Burke came un­der scru­tiny af­ter a teacher re­ported see­ing Burke hit a pas­sen­ger on the bus. The Saint Vrain Val­ley School District, which con­tracts to pro­vide the bus ser­vice, placed Burke on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave af­ter the al­le­ga­tions sur­faced, the af­fi­davit states.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.