ECONOMY BORO (KDKA) — A school bus monitor is facing assault and endangerment charges for allegedly threatening a little girl.
Authorities say he grabbed the girl by her neck, but he says he was just trying to keep her safe.
Surveillance video shows 61-year-old Thomas Sargeson working as a monitor on a school bus taking children home from Economy Elementary School in the Ambridge Area School District.
Police say while on duty, Sargeson allegedly lost his temper with the 5-year-old girl and grabbed her by the neck because she wouldn’t sit down.
The girl’s mother reported the incident to police.
“Later that evening, the child’s mother noticed marks on the back of her child’s neck and questioned her, and I guess the child had told her the bus monitor grabbed her while she was sitting in the seat on the bus,” said Economy Borough Police Chief Michael O’Brien.
Police say they reviewed the school bus video, confirmed the child’s story and filed charges against Sargeson. They say the girl was heard screaming and crying.
Sargeson, also known as Sarge, reportedly told her, “If you bite me, I promise you will lose all of your teeth,” and he also allegedly threatened to cut off her hair.
The police report says Sargeson did nothing to make sure the child wasn’t hurt except tell her, “This is all your fault. I told you to stay in your seat. I only did this to keep you safe.”
“He was charged with simple assault, terroristic threats and endangering the welfare of children,” said Chief O’Brien.
Meanwhile, the school district has released a statement that read in part: “Following the review of the video and consultation with the Economy Borough Police Department, the Ambridge Area School District informed R.J. Rhodes Transit, Inc. that the monitor was no longer permitted to be present on any bus being operated on behalf of the school district. The District also filed a report with ChildLine, a mandated statewide child protective services program for reporting suspected child abuse.”
R.J. Rhodes Transit didn’t have much to say about the incident, which is still under investigation. But a spokesman did say that because of what happened on the bus Sargeson has been fired.