“The child is a nonverbal, autistic child. That is a problem because finding the source of these injuries is going to be very difficult.” Eric Artrip
By Kailey Schuyler for WAFF
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – Limestone County Schools and one of its former employees are facing a lawsuit claiming the former employee abused a 12-year-old nonverbal autistic student.
In early November 2021, the mother of a nonverbal autistic teen found bruises covering her son when he arrived home from school. Her son attended East Limestone County High School in Athens.
“The child is a nonverbal, autistic child,” Attorney, Eric Artrip, said. That is a problem because finding the source of these injuries is going to be very difficult.”
The mother suspected an Instructional Aide at the school caused her son’s bruises.
A lawsuit filed this week claims the boy, listed as John Doe, has never attacked another student or any teacher. When the mother, listed as Jane Doe, met with principal Louis Berry about the bruises, he allegedly told her she needed to keep her son home “because his teachers needed a break from him.”
However, her concerns led to an internal investigation and with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office.
“Ultimately an investigation revealed that Mrs. Patterson was the person who has assaulted the child.”
Artrip filed the suit on behalf of the mother and 12-year-old student against former employee Robye Patterson.
According to the lawsuit, deputies arrested Patterson in March. She’s facing a misdemeanor assault charge. Patterson pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“We held off on filing the lawsuit until Mrs. Patterson was arrested in March because we did not want to interfere with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office investigation.”
Artrip says those investigations revealed a number of red flags and systemic errors.
“The lawsuit is trying to address not only this student but all children in the school system.”
WAFF has reached out to the school system and has not heard back. Patterson is out on bond. Her next hearing is in August.
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