What to Know
- A former bus driver and two former aides face charges for allegedly abusing a 9-year-old boy with autism while transporting him to school
- On at least one occasion, the three allegedly bent his toes backwards until he screamed in agony, the indictment unsealed Tuesday says
- The boy's parents grew concerned about his behavior at one point and asked the bus company to check its cameras; the abuse footage was there
A former bus driver and two aides face charges for allegedly tormenting and physically abusing a 9-year-old Long Island boy with autism as they took him back and forth to school, authorities say.
According to an indictment unsealed Tuesday, driver James LaGreca and two aides -- identified as 68-year-old Auga Roberts of Coram and 56-year-old Anneris Contreras of Bayshore -- abused the child, who is nonverbal, on at least fives occasions in October. The abuse allegedly began a month after they started taking him back and forth to the Masera Learning Center in West Islip.
Calling the allegations "extremely troubling and depraved," Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said the three allegedly kicked the boy several times and on at least one occasion, they took off his shoes and bent his toes backwards, causing him to scream out in agony.
At one point, the boy's parents grew concerned about his behavior and asked the bus company to take a look at surveillance cameras. The bus company declined to comment on the case to News 4.
Those cameras recorded all the alleged abuse, Sini said. Once the bus company saw the footage, the 81-year-old driver and aides were fired. They pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them in court on Tuesday and were released without bail.
"This case in some ways is a parent's worst nightmare," Sini said. "We entrust our children to people like this, to bus drivers, bus aides, teachers."
A defense attorney LaGreca said his client feels horrible about what happened. He called the incident "unfortunate" and said they're looking to move forward, adding his client has a grandson with special needs.
Roberts and Contreras both declined comment as the left court on Tuesday.