Lawsuit accuses former special ed teacher of "torture" - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

FOX19 Investigates: Lawsuit accuses former special ed teacher of "torture"

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Amanda Kitcho Amanda Kitcho
The chair allegedly used by Kitcho The chair allegedly used by Kitcho

A former special education teacher at Columbia Elementary in Warren County, who's been the subject of a FOX19 investigation dating back about a year, is now a defendant in a federal lawsuit accusing her of "torture."

Five families are suing Amanda Kitcho, accusing her of causing their disabled children emotional distress, as well as subjecting them to "assault" and "battery."

As FOX19 previously reported, teacher's aides and a librarian were horrified by how they saw Kitcho interacting with her students. They notified school leaders and officials at the Kings Local School District but say nothing was done for months. Eventually, Kitcho left the district as part of an agreement that the district would mislead the media about the results of its internal investigation and with the promise that she would get a letter of recommendation.

The federal lawsuit, filed today, focuses on a little girl identified as H.M. She has a congenital disorder that leaves her with a short life expectancy.

The families' attorneys write that H.M. was subjected to Kitcho's "mistreatment and torture" for seven months.

Though her mother told the school not to let H.M. crawl, the lawsuit contends H.M. was forced to crawl to the bathroom connected to the classroom if she needed to go, rather than use her specialized walker. A witness quotes Kitcho as saying, "I'm not putting her in that damn thing every time she's got to move from center to center. She can crawl."

One witness described it as like watching "a dying dog trying to get to the side of the road. That's how pathetic it looked to me," the lawsuit says.

Court documents also say Kitcho would tape H.M. into a chair and make her stay in the bathroom as punishment.

With H.M. screaming in the bathroom one day, a witness says Kitcho responded like a child herself.

"I hate you," the lawsuit quotes Kitcho telling H.M. "I hate you."

It also details other allegations that FOX19 has reported on before, including that Kitcho would eat her students' food --- food that their parents had sent with them for the day.

Kitcho isn't the only defendant in the lawsuit. So are former Columbia principal Jerry Gasper and current principal Shelley Detmer-Bogaert.

The lawsuit accuses Detmer-Bogaert of participating in the cover-up of what was happening inside Kitcho's classroom.

"On at least one occasion while H.M. was in the bathroom crying and screaming to be let out, Defendant Detmer-Bogaert, the assistant principal of Columbia at that time, came into the classroom," the lawsuit states. "The abuse was too obvious for her not to have seen. Rather than intervene, she exited the classroom, allowing the abuse to continue that day and beyond."

FOX19 reached Kitcho's attorney, John R. Doll of Dayton, this afternoon. He said he has not yet seen the lawsuit and can't comment on it. Last year, he told FOX19 these were just "spurious allegations."

We have also e-mailed principal Detmer-Bogaert but have not yet received a response.

Though local law enforcement investigated whether Kitcho committed any crimes, she was never charged. However, the Warren County prosecutor told FOX19 that the allegations against Kitcho were "disturbing."

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