GREENUP, Kentucky -- A former Greenup County teacher shown in a school video dragging an autistic boy through a school hallway entered a not guilty plea Wednesday to a misdemeanor assault charge.
Trina Abrams entered the plea to the fourth-degree assault charge during an appearance in Greenup District Court.
Abrams is accused of dragging a 9-year-old student with autism by his wrists through the hallways of Wurtland (Kentucky) Elementary School in October. The boy suffered sprains and bruises, according to his mother, in an incident that has received national attention.
The video of the child being dragged, originally posted to Facebook by the boy’s mother, Angel Nelson, has been aired repeatedly by CNN and other national media outlets.
Abrams left court immediately after entering her plea and declined comment. Her attorney, Matthew Wisecup., said she will fight the charges.
“She certainly disputes the charges against her and it is our intention to fight them in court,” Wisecup said.
Abrams remains free with the condition she not teach or work in a school. District Judge Brian McCloud scheduled a pretrial conference for Feb. 20.
Abrams is no longer employed with the Greenup County school district, Wisecup said during the court appearance.
The dragging incident came to light when Nelson posted the video that had been recorded by the school’s surveillance cameras, Nelson obtained it under a subpoena, she said.
The video shows Abrams dragging the boy first by one wrist and then the other, at times on his back and on his knees, through a succession of hallways at Wurtland Elementary, where the child was a third-grader.
The boy’s autism and other conditions, including anxiety, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder make him prone to meltdowns, or uncontrolled response to overwhelming stimuli, Nelson said.
Abrams was the school’s resource teacher and the staffer responsible for adherence to the boy’s individualized education program. The dragging happened after the boy’s classroom teacher saw a meltdown was oncoming and called Abrams to the room, Nelson said.
Nelson said her son also may have been mistreated in a classroom where the video camera was turned away and unable to record the scene.
Greenup County Schools Superintendent Sherry Horsley said the district removed Abrams from the school and investigated. She said the district also called police and Child Protective Services.
“The district followed established safety protocol as soon as this situation became known. The parent was contacted immediately and the student was assessed by the school nurse and referred for outside medical evaluation. Child Protective Services was contacted and the Kentucky State Police opened an investigation.
“The teacher was removed from the school and a formal investigation was conducted."
The boy now attends Greysbranch Elementary, also in the Greenup district, Nelson said. He is recovering but has experienced regression of writing and fine motor skills since the dragging and requires therapy, she said.
Nelson has said she wants Abrams to lose her teaching credentials and face stiffer charges.
“She assaulted a child, a disabled child at that. I feel there should be jail time possibly,” she said.
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