NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A former school bus aide who was caught on school bus surveillance video slapping a student with autism in 2014 was sentenced in June to 11 months and 29 days of jail time, WFTS reports.
As previously reported, surveillance video shows that James Lambert slapped the boy, who was restrained in a harness, across the face, which caused him to yell and moan, and then slapped him again a couple more times. Lambert had resigned after he was confronted with the video.
Lambert’s sentencing was part of a plea agreement with prosecutors who had initially requested tougher charges of two counts of child abuse, according to the news source. If Lambert had been found guilty of those counts, he could have gone to prison for up to 10 years. His attorney told ABC Action News that what was in question was whether Lambert’s offenses rose to the level of child abuse.
Part of the plea agreement requires Lambert to take an anger management course and a psychological evaluation, and write a letter of apology to the victim's family. He is also prohibited from working with the Pasco County school system, according to the news source. Lambert told the judge that he never learned to read, and never graduated high school. His attorney said Lambert also has a learning disability and probably shouldn't have been put in a position to care for children, WFTS reports.
The boy’s mother said during the sentencing in court that her son has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder because of the incident, according to WFTS. She told the news source that her family may sue the school system for putting Lambert in charge of children, and that she will also seek a civil suit against him for damages.
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