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Mon. 3:42 p.m.: Trial to begin for bus aide accused of assault

YOUNGSTOWN – Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in a case alleging a Warren woman assaulted a special needs student on a school bus.

Patricia Bennett, 59, of Jackson Street SW, Warren, is facing charges of assault, endangering children and falsification. The charges stem from a Jan. 6, 2020, incident when a student was boarding a bus at the Leonard Kirtz School in Austintown when Bennett was a bus aide.

A woman in January came to the Austintown police station to report an aide pushed her son as he was getting on the bus at the 4801 Woodridge Drive school. The boy then pushed the aide, and the aide punched the boy with a closed fist, according to a police report. There is video of the incident, according to the police report.

The 17-year-old student was assaulted and then acted in self defense, attorneys for the teen state in a civil lawsuit related to the criminal case.

Bennett and the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities were named in the lawsuit, though Bennett’s attorney Michael Scala wrote in a counterclaim that it was Bennett who was assaulted.

Bennett is no longer employed by the board of developmental disabilities.

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