PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Baldwin-Whitehall teacher has been ordered to stand trial on charges he punched a student so hard he blacked out.
Brian Paulos, 43, is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the hallway back in May.
Today, Paulos appeared in court and was ordered to stand trial on all charges.
At one point during his testimony at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, 13-year-old Damon Kolich needed a minute to collect his emotions as he described his encounter with his math teacher at Harrison Middle School, Brian Paulos.
“I went to ask him if I could get my book from my locker,” testified Kolich. “He punched me in my chest. He used a closed fist. I bent over and blacked out.”
Paulos attorney, Robert Crisanti, says his client did not intend to hurt him.
“He did make contact with the boy, but was he intending to hurt the boy? Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” said Crisanti. “He wanted to get this kid’s attention. It’s not the way he teaches.”
The defense attorney says the reason Paulos was trying to get Kolich’s attention was his behavior the day before when a substitute teacher had the class and Paulos was absent.
“My client was attempting to keep this kid on the straight and narrow and he wanted to bring it to his attention that his behavior the day before was in appropriate,” said Cristani. “So he did what he thought was acceptable and brought it to the kid’s attention and talked to him about it. At no time did he have any intention to harm this boy.”
Cristani also accused prosecutors of riding a wave of anti-teacher sentiment as a result of the Plum Borough School District sex investigations, which are unrelated to this case.
“You know it’s a shame my client is caught up in a wave of hysteria that’s consumed this county arising with what’s happened in Plum Borough,” he said. “And he’s a victim of that. What happened in May would typically be resolved amicably and we’re still hoping that will occur, but the times are bad for teachers and he’s a victim of that. He’s been there 19 years. He’s not a bully. But we’re living in Allegheny County, which includes Plum Borough, and now everybody who’s a teacher is subjected to the whims of the D.A. because of that,” said Cristani.
Meanwhile, pending the ultimate resolution of the case, Paulos remains on unpaid leave from the school.