MIAMI COUNTY — A civil lawsuit has been filed against Bradford Exempted Village School and fifth-grade teacher Brian Schwieterman seeking compensation for personal injury allegedly sustained by a fifth-grade student last year.
Filed on Oct. 25, the civil suit claims Schwieterman and the district breached their duty to a 12-year-old male child by “recklessly and/or intentionally subjecting him to physical and/or emotional abuse and harassment by forcibly restraining him in a chair with tape and taping over his mouth in a classroom at the school, all in the presence of his fellow students and peers.”
The incident occurred on Oct. 21, 2015.
Bradford Exempted Village School Superintendent Ken Miller declined to comment “about matters in litigation.” Miller confirmed via email that Schwieterman is currently an employee of the district.
The child and his parents are represented by Jonathan Zweizig, of the law firm Lopez, Severt and Pratt. The suit is seeking judgment in excess of $25,000 plus punitive damages of $500,000.
The civil suit is seeking compensation for personal injuries and damages including severe and permanent bodily and emotional injuries; great pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, and loss of ability to perform usual functions; reasonable and necessary medical expenses; and miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses.
The parents of the child are also seeking compensation due for “loss of society, companionship, affection and comfort of their son… and will incur medical expenses and other consequential money damages on his behalf.”
At the time of the incident, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Miami County Children Services. Detectives took statements from the child, as well as written statements from students in the classroom obtained by the school principal, Schwieterman, Miller and other parties.
On Nov. 5, 2015, Miami County Municipal Court Prosecutor Andrew Johnston met with sheriff’s office detectives to review the case. According to the sheriff’s report, Johnston reviewed elements of the law and did not feel charges should be pursued.
Schwieterman met with detectives, along with his legal counsel, on Nov. 4, 2015.
According to the report, Schwieterman had asked the child to sit up in his seat. Schwieterman said he made the comment that he would have to tape him to chair if he didn’t stop moving, at which time the student was laughing, as were other students in the classroom.
Schwieterman stated that he used the masking tape to tape his arms along his side, and around the chair, and he went around twice, and it was loosely put on. Schwieterman said that when he was doing this the student was “laughing.” Schwieterman stated that after he put the tape on he started to walk to the board, at which time the student made the comment, “I can still move.” Schwieterman stated that he replied, “I guess I have to keep you quiet, too,” and placed one piece of tape on the student’s mouth. Schwieterman stated after he did this, he started to walk back to the board, at which time the student stated “I can still talk,” and he said he replied, “I can still hear you.”
Schwieterman stated that everyone was laughing including the student, that he felt he dealt with the situation by having a good time, and that the child always seemed to want to be the “center of attention,” according to the report. Schwieterman stated that the tape was only on for “maybe a minute and a half,” after which he cut it off and threw it in the trash.
According to the detective’s report, the child’s father said Schwieterman told him about the incident, but both had conflicting statements regarding what was said on that date. In the report, the child’s mother stated her child “copes” with fear by smiling and laughing and her son was scared of Schwieterman during the incident.
According to the sheriff’s office report, the child was interviewed by detectives on Oct. 28, 2015. According to the student’s statement to detectives, the child said he was able to remove the tape from his mouth, despite his arms being taped to his seat. According to several statements by students in the class, the student was taped in his chair for approximately two minutes before Schwieterman cut the tape off his chair.
According to the sheriff’s report, the child, student statements, and the teacher all noted the class laughed and “played along” during the incident.
The detective asked the student, “if at any time was he scared of being in school or classroom, and he stated that he was not.” The detective asked the child, “if he was injured when this occurred, or just embarrassed, and (the student) stated that he was embarrassed.”
Schwieterman was placed on paid administrative leave by the district until the investigation was completed by detectives.