Disturbing Criminal Free After Time Served

(HorizonPost.com) – A school bus aide in suburban Denver was arrested earlier this month and charged with third-degree assault for physically abusing an autistic boy on the bus, the Associated Press reported.

Jessica Vestal’s 10-year-old non-verbal son came home from school in January covered in bruises. In the months that followed he suffered from other injuries, including a black eye in February which the school bus aid claimed was caused by the boy hitting himself with a toy. In March, the boy’s foot was bruised.

Suspecting that her son was being abused on the bus, in March, Vestal requested to see surveillance footage, which Vestal’s attorneys later made public, that showed school bus aid Kiarra Jones abusing her son.

The 28-year-old Jones was arrested on April 5 on one count of third-degree assault on an at-risk person.

The video shows Vestal’s son getting punched, hit, and elbowed by Jones. Vestal said while she couldn’t watch the whole thing, she wanted the footage publicly released because she suspected her child was not the only victim.

In an April 5 letter, Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Todd Lampert told district parents that Jones had been terminated following her arrest.

Lampert said such behavior would not be tolerated. He said parents should be able to trust the district “with the well-being of your children” and not have to worry that they would be “harmed when they are in our care.”

Vestal and other parents are considering filing a lawsuit against the district.

Brittany Yarborough, another parent whose autistic child rides the same bus, now believes that Jones may also be responsible for the injuries her non-verbal son received.

Englewood police confirmed in a statement that more than one autistic child was abused by Jones. Investigators are reviewing an “extensive amount” of bus surveillance footage and other evidence to identify all of the victims.

Jones was released shortly after her arrest on a $5,000 bond and is expected to be back in an Arapahoe County courtroom for a preliminary hearing on May 3 for multiple charges of crimes against at-risk juveniles.

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