State

SC woman hit and punched autistic 4-year-old. But the boy could not relay the abuse

More than two and a half years after a school bus monitor was captured on video repeatedly hitting and punching a 4-year-old special-needs child, a 64-year-old Seabrook woman pleaded guilty Thursday to seven counts of second degree assault and battery in connection with the February 2015 incident, according to a 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office news release.

Lillian Jackson, a Durham School Services employee at the time, was sentenced to three years in prison and 100 hours of community service, the release said.

The mother of Bluffton Elementary School student found bruises, scratches and other injuries on the boy, who is non-verbal and autistic.

“This little boy did not have the ability to say what was happening to him and endured abuse at the hands of someone who was in a position of authority and trust,” Assistant Solicitor Alex Joseph said.

The mother sued Durham, the school district and Jackson for negligence in the spring of 2015. Lawyers for the plaintiff raised questions during depositions with Beaufort County School District officials over whether they had failed to meet the state’s mandatory reporting requirements for suspected child abuse and neglect. Superintendent Jeff Moss released a statement in September 2016 denying that the district tried to cover up the child’s abuse.

Court records show the district and Durham settled with the mother in February 2017 for an amount of money made known to the court “in camera,” meaning in private.

District spokesman Jim Foster said he did not immediately know the settlement amount Thursday evening.

A lawyer for the plaintiff, Skip Utsey, declined to comment on the size of the settlement.

Also in 2016, the district severed its ties with Durham, ending a 20-year stretch of contracting out to private companies and now manages bus operations in-house.

Joan McDonough: 843-706-8125, @IPBG_Joan

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect the agency that provided the news release.

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