A mother releases video of her autistic son being hit by an aide on a school bus to raise awareness


DENVER (AP) — In January, Jessica Vestal’s 10-year-old autistic son, who cannot speak, came home from school in suburban Denver with bruises all over his body. Other injuries followed, including a black eye in February, which she said a bus aide blamed on him hitting himself with a toy, and a bruised foot in March.

It wasn’t until Vestal asked to review the bus surveillance video last month, which she made public Tuesday, that she learned the bus aide was abusing her son.

The aide, Kiarra Jones, 28, has been charged with one count of third-degree assault on an at risk person, according to court records. She was released from jail shortly after her arrest but did not return a telephone call seeking comment at a number listed for her. She is being represented by lawyers from the public defender’s office, which does not comment to the media on its cases.

In an April 5 letter to parents, Littleton Public Schools superintendent Todd Lambert said Jones was terminated after her arrest.

“This kind of behavior cannot be and is not tolerated. As parents, you trust us with the well-being of your children and you should never have to worry about them being harmed when they are in our care,” Lambert wrote.

The district on Tuesday did not respond to requests to comment on allegations made by Vestal, her lawyers and other parents that the district failed to investigate what was behind the unexplained injuries suffered by their children. They are considering a lawsuit against the school district.

Since learning what happened to Vestal’s son, Brittany Yarborough now believes Jones is also responsible for injuries her 11-year-old nonverbal son received on the same bus.

In a statement, police in Englewood, Colorado, said they found that more than one autistic student was abused and are continuing to review an “extensive amount” of video and other evidence to make sure all the victims are identified.

Vestal said she could only watch about two minutes of her son getting elbowed, punched and hit but wanted to release the footage because she suspects this is happening to other children without anyone knowing.

“You can’t see how awful it is without looking at it,” she said. “And if he had to live through it, I think the least everybody else could do is pay attention to it so that it doesn’t happen again.”

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This story has been corrected to show that Jones has been charged with one count of third-degree assault on an at risk person, not one count of abusing a person in a position of trust. It has also been corrected to show her age is 28, not 29.



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