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School bus driver used duct tape to restrain 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome, DA's office says

Juliet Pratt (Image Source: WPVI-TV video screenshot)

A Pennsylvania school bus driver was accused of using duct tape to restrain a 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome, according to the Delaware County District Attorney's Office.

Juliet Pratt, 54, was arrested and charged with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, and assault over accusations that she duct-taped a child to his seat on her bus in March.

The Upper Darby Police Department was called to Hillcrest Elementary School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, on March 8 regarding reports that a bus driver had assaulted a 10-year-old student.

Authorities retrieved surveillance footage from the bus, which showed Pratt placing duct tape around the child's ankles and across his chest, the DA's office stated in a Tuesday press release.

"The student was seated on the bus in the district-supplied safety harness," the press release said. "Upon arriving at the school, the defendant used a seat belt cutter to remove the tape from the child. At no time was the student observed trying to get out of his seat or otherwise move around the bus."

District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer explained that the boy was "already fully restrained in the vehicle's harness."

Stollsteimer told WPSG-TV, "The child was restrained in a harness on the bus, a special harness, this is a child with Down syndrome and was not doing anything to act up in any way."

The DA stated that if an accident had occurred, the child would not have been able to get free because of the tape.

"There is simply no excuse for this conduct," he added.

According to Stollsteimer, Pratt "did not say why this particular time" she restrained the child, implying that this was not the first time the bus driver had attempted to retrain the boy.

Pratt allegedly admitted to authorities that she had duct-taped the child at least once before, WPVI-TV reported.

"I'm not sure what was going through the driver's mind in that moment but whatever it was it was criminal," Stollsteimer contended.

It is unclear at this time how authorities were alerted to the bus driver's alleged criminal actions.

The school district told WPSG that it is cooperating with authorities in their investigation of the bus driver.

Upper Darby School District added, "This is a personnel matter; the individual is no longer driving buses at this time."

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