A special education teacher in Randolph, Massachusetts, is facing charges of assault and battery on a disabled person after a 6-year-old student's parents say he repeatedly came home with injuries.
Eric, nicknamed Junior by his family, hasn't been the same over the last few months.
"I first started noticing things on Junior probably about a month after he started school," said Eric's mother, Joan Batson.
She says her son started coming home from school on multiple occasions with bruises and scratches.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"He had four pretty large bruises on his legs, and he had one on his back," she said.
The first grader attends John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Randolph. He's autistic and mostly non-verbal.
"He doesn't have a voice," said Nick Espinosa, Eric's stepfather. "He can't tell anybody what's going on."
And when his parents asked his special education teacher, Tricia Rossman, about the injuries, they say the answers didn't add up.
"She said he was sitting in a butterfly position, which caused bruises on his thigh," said Espinosa. "That just doesn't make sense."
The superintendent recently sent out a letter to parents, saying she'd been made aware of several complaints of mistreatment, and that an investigation was underway. Some staff members were put on leave.
Now, the Randolph Police Department say Rossman is facing two counts of assault and battery on a disabled person.
"I think it's out of aggravation, which is sad," said Batson. "You're a special education teacher. You should know and understand how to deal with these children if they're having meltdowns in the classroom."
It's unclear if the charges Rossman is facing are in connection with Eric or another student.
According to court documents obtained by the Patriot Ledger, staffers described Rossman's classroom as "toxic" and said she "manhandled" students, with one staffer saying she'd seen Rossman drag a child and believed Rossman hit that student in the face.
"I just want some answers," said Espinosa.
An attorney for Rossman issued a statement to NBC10 Boston Wednesday night, saying, "Ms. Rossman unequivocally denies any wrongdoing. The abuse simply did not happen and there is no corroboration. The allegations have been fabricated by a disgruntled paraprofessional who was removed from Ms. Rossman’s classroom in December due to her own inability to care for the children. Ms. Rossman is fully cooperating with the Randolph Police. She is a great teacher who loves her students."
Rossman's attorney went on to say his client's arraignment in Quincy District Court was continued from Feb. 13 to March 11 in order for the Norfolk County District Attorney "to take a closer look at the evidence, or, as we suggest, the lack thereof."
Peter Pasciucco concluded his statement on Rossman's behalf, saying, "It also appears the School District botched the investigation from the start and are now trying to cover themselves."