Bus assistant, 51, charged with assault
Woman faces 22 felony counts in an attack on a student with autism.
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.