HEALDTON, Okla. (KFOR) – Despite shocking confessions from a Tri-county Interlocal Co-Op teacher’s aide regarding a then 16-year-old student, the criminal case has been dismissed.
Stephanie King told KFOR her daughter had just gotten off the bus in May 2022 when she got a call from the school.
King said the school oddly asked her and her daughter to come back to the school shortly after.
Once they got there, King said she saw police officers and had no idea what was going on. The school told King her daughter was working through rehabilitation services which included janitorial work, said King.
A Healdton police report shows the teacher’s aide followed her into a closet and closed the door behind him.
The report also shows that is a clear violation of school policy as teachers are not allowed to be in a room alone with a student.
Another school employee found the pair and reported it to the school as “possible inappropriate behavior.”
“It was very disheartening. I mean, you know, I guess in a way, I was even a positive person. So I always tried to think of it not being the way it was. But then when the police came in and told me that in the interviews [the teacher’s aide] had admitted to having feelings for her, he had admitted to the fact that he wanted it to go further if somebody hadn’t have seen them and caught them, that it would have gone further and it was heartbreaking,” said King.
According to a police report, the teacher’s aide was interviewed by police.
He was asked why he followed the student into the closet and shut the door behind him. He said, “He got caught up in the moment of fun that they were having poking each other on the shoulder and stomach area.”
The initial police officer interrogating the aide reported he felt like there was more to the story, so he called the Healdton Police Chief for assistance.
The Chief asked if the aide had gotten sexual gratification out of what he did. He answered yes, but that he never touched her in any private areas of her body.
Police asked what would have happened if a school staff member had not caught the pair.
“[The teacher’s aide] stated that he would have done more and would have wanted to do more to [the student],” the report reads.
Officials asked what “more” meant to which the aide replied, “More meant sexual actions that he would have done to [the student] and that he was at a point of not being able to control his actions and thoughts that he had with [the student].”
The teacher’s aide also spoke of possibly trying to have a physical and mental relationship with the student.
He confessed that if more time had passed during the school year, he would have “in fact done sexual acts to [the student] if given the opportunity to.”
The aide was escorted off school property that day, May 4, 2022, and was advised he was trespassed from the property.
Court records show this is not the first time this aide has been in the hot seat.
“A few weeks earlier, another special needs student and classmate of Jane Doe 1 was sexually assaulted by [the teacher’s aide]. When her parents came to pick her up from school, they witnessed [the teacher’s aide] grab their daughter’s vagina on top of her clothes,” records show.
The parents of the student immediately reported [the teacher’s aide]’s actions to the Tri-County Superintendent, according to court documents.
The Superintendent told the parents that she “was sure [the teacher’s aide] did not intend to touch her sexually” and that “he came from a good family.”
An investigation was not opened into the incident nor were authorities or the Department of Human Services called, records reveal.
“We’ve got enough as special needs parents to battle without having to worry about these battles also,” stated King. “You do expect a school whether the child has disabilities or not, whether they’re young, whatever it is. You expect them to protect your children.”
King’s daughter functions at a second grade level. She said her daughter has the mental capacity of an eight year old.
Her daughter has a rare medical condition called Chromosomal Translocation.
“It’s kind of something that’s very unusual. There is a translocation between chromosomes nine and ten from what I understand. There’s three kids in the world that have it, and I have two of them. So translocations are kind of more common, but not with that specific one,” explained King.
Her daughter can also say approximately 50 words and is 98% non-verbal.
King said she taught her daughter how to distinguish between “okay” and “not okay” places to be touched though.
“What spots did she show you?,” asked News 4 Reporter, Kaylee Olivas.
“Kind of like the side of the breasts were kind of the main spots that she showed us that she was very uncomfortable with,” stated King. “I can’t even describe it. From somebody that’s had some trauma, similar traumas, it was really hard.”
A forensic investigator also met with King’s daughter about the incident.
According to records, the investigator was able to identify something had happened.
She allegedly covered the “touches” with the investigator and was able to communicate what had happened at school was not okay with her.
King said her daughter now shuts down once the situation or the teacher’s aide is brought up in conversation.
Following the events on May 4, the aide was arrested and charged with sexual battery.
King decided legal action would be the best route in getting justice for her daughter and protecting other children from the same fate.
A couple of months later and a criminal lawsuit was filed, but it didn’t get far.
“It got dismissed pretty much because [my daughter] couldn’t tell her side of the story,” said King.
Although her daughter is non-verbal, the case was thrown out.
The Oklahoma State Courts Network shows the case of sexual battery is dismissed.
Because the case has been dismissed as of now, News 4 is unable to share the name of the teacher’s aide.
In addition to being dismissed, an objection notice from the teacher’s aide’s attorney argued the student’s disability.
“Even if it is accepted [the student] operates at a mental age of eight, many eight year-old children testify throughout the state, and being eight years old is not a disability,” court documents show.
“The real issue is the disability of being non-verbal and not being able to verbalize for the court and for the record, what happened to her. So it’s not so much that she’s operating at an eight year old level or a second grade level. It’s the non-verbal disability that prevents this case from going forward on a criminal matter based on a criminal charge,” said the family’s attorney, Tod Mercer.
News 4 called the office of the Judge who dismissed the case, but he wasn’t available. A representative from his office expects him to be back on Friday, so we left a message.
“It got dismissed because in order to get past a preliminary hearing, you have to put on enough evidence to show that a crime’s probably been committed. And the person accused is probably the one that committed the crime. It’s not a real high standard of proof at that hearing stage, but it does require them to come forward and put on enough evidence to get behind a trial. And so when the Judge is faced with that situation where he doesn’t have a verbal response or a clear verbal response to the questions, it put the Judge in a bad situation. And I think that he took, you know, the way out that, you know, was probably the law. And so whenever he decided to dismiss it, that’s just based upon the fact that she is nonverbal and cannot tell exactly what happened in there,” said Mercer.
Mercer and the family are going to try again with taking the teacher’s aide to court, but this time it’ll be civil.
“The standard of proof is much less in a civil case than a criminal case. Our civil case is not built around the criminal aspect of what happened. It’s built around the failure of the district to prevent it from happening,” said Mercer.
News 4 was provided with a copy of the complaint before it’s filing.
The Tricounty Interlocal Co-Op has been named a Defendant in the case as well as the teacher’s aide.
The school is facing a violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment, and a violation of Title IX.
The teacher’s aide will face assault and battery plus intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“We’ve got to clear these bad teachers and administrators out of our schools. And one of the things that’s not happening that we are hoping that our lawsuits are going to bring attention to, and that is these are adults that know about these molesters,” stated Mercer.
King told KFOR that her hope with this lawsuit isn’t just justice, but also a change in laws.
“The fact that we are so lenient on sexual predators and we are, you know, like I said, just the way our laws are, things need to change,” stated King.
King has since transferred her daughter to another school because of this incident. Her daughter had been attending Tri-County Interlocal Co-Op for eight years prior to this.
“She was a little nervous, but she absolutely loves it over there. They have some wonderful programs, and I have been so thankful, absolutely thankful for everything that school district has done so far,” stated King.
Mercer said he and his co-counsel, Cameron Spradling are reviewing the civil complaint once more before filing it.
He expects it to be filed within the next few days.
News 4 called the Tri-county Interlocal Co-Op Thursday morning for comment, but a representative said, “I can’t help you with anything like that.” We asked if the Superintendent could interview or send a statement regarding the situation, but the representative declined.