Manhattan charter school principal accused of assaulting 7-year-old boy with door

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Manhattan charter school principal accused of assaulting 7-year-old boy with door
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Darla Miles reports on the Manhattan principal charged with allegedly assaulting a child.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A mother speaking out after her child was injured at a New York City school, allegedly assaulted by his principal at the Harlem Hebrew Language Academy back in January.

Jason Epting, 43, is charged with assault, harassment and child endangerment but claims it's a misunderstanding.

"A staff member called," mom Patricia Laforey said. "She felt I needed to be notified right away."

Laforey said she received a video chat from the school claiming that her 7-year-old son, who has autism, had run into a door and suffered a gash above his eye -- but she said the story kept changing.

"He has a concussion," she said. "He does get headaches. He can't stare at anything for too long."

The incident allegedly happened on January 24, but Epting was only officially charged last week after a video of the incident was later discovered by school officials and handed over to police.

"What's important is after seeing this video, they have charged this defendant with a serious felony," attorney Sanford Rubinstein said. "That's what's important here."

According to the criminal complaint, the incident happened in the bathroom, and the video was viewed by a detective, who wrote, "I observed on surveillance video the defendant slammed the bathroom door directly into said individual's head."

In terms of the specific details surrounding the incident, neither Laforey nor her attorney would say.

"I haven't seen the video," Laforey said. "I don't know what's on the video, but the school felt it was enough to turn the video in. The DA felt it was enough to make this arrest."

Epting's attorney has a much different story, saying, "It was a sad accident, and we are sorry. The door may have malfunctioned, injuring the child. We are sorry."

Epting has been on administrative leave since the incident and was released on bail following a Thursday arraignment.

"I feel justice needs to be served," Laforey said. "If what they're saying is on the video, he has to go to jail for what he's done."


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