A bus driver in Ashland, Ohio, faces criminal charges and has been suspended without pay after she was caught on video slapping an upset 8-year-old autistic boy. The driver faces termination over the Jan. 17 incident.
Video from the camera on the bus shows Cathy Goetz getting into some sort of verbal altercation with the boy, who was clearly upset. She claims she didn’t know he was autistic.
The boy started screaming and Goetz attempted to get him to stop, the police report reveals. When the boy continued to scream, the driver eventually stopped the bus and confronted him.
As she put her finger near his face, the boy is seen trying to slap it away. That’s when the bus driver reached out and slapped him. In response, the 8-year-old threatened to kill her, the video shows.
WJW-TV outlines what happened next:
Goetz then called her bus dispatcher, who called 911.
As Goetz waited for Ashland police to arrive, the boy continued to scream and stomp his feet, and that’s when video shows Goetz grabbing him by his collar.
When a police officer got onto the bus and escorted the boy off, Cathy Goetz told the officer that the 8-year-old threatened her and hit and kicked her, but did not tell him that she slapped the boy and grabbed him around the collar.
When police eventually gained access and watched the video, Goetz was charged with assault, menacing and child endangering.
Despite the video evidence, Goetz reportedly pleaded not guilty during her first court appearance on Friday. She reportedly told investigators and school officials that she didn’t remember slapping the child.
Ashland Schools Superintendent Dr. Douglas Marrah told the news station that he knew some action had to be taken after seeing the “physical part” of the altercation. He also said what the driver did “verbally” was also a concern.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Goetz will be terminated from the school district.