Colorado school bus aide shown hitting autistic boy faces more charges

DENVER (AP) — A school bus aide shown on surveillance video hitting a nonverbal autistic boy has been charged with 10 more counts of abuse involving two children, prosecutors said Friday.

Kiarra Jones, 29, was arrested last month and initially charged with one felony count of third-degree assault on an at risk person. Eight additional charges of third-degree assault on an at-risk person and two misdemeanor counts of child abuse have been filed against her, Eric Ross, a spokesperson for 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner said. The new charges involve alleged abuse of the child originally named as a victim and a second child, he said.

Jones is represented by lawyers from the public defender’s office, which does not comment to the media on its cases.

The names of the victims were redacted in court documents but Qusair Mohamedbhai, a lawyer who represents the families of students who took the bus Jones worked on in suburban Denver, said they are both nonverbal autistic boys including a 10-year-old shown being hit in a video released by his mother last month.

At the time, Jessica Vestal said her son came home from school with unexplained bruises all over his body in January. Later, he got a black eye, which Vestal said Jones blamed on him hitting himself with a toy, and later he suffered a bruised foot. Unable to explain the source of the injuries, Vestal asked the school district to review the bus surveillance video.

Each of the new assault charges, which are felonies, represents a day in which there are multiple separate incidents of abuse against the children, Mohamedbhai said.