Ex-bus driver who assaulted disabled student gets prison sentence

Published 4:34 pm Friday, February 28, 2020

A Mississippi judge has sentenced a former school bus driver to prison for assaulting a disabled student.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs reviewed more than 20 letters of support and heard pleas for leniency before he sentenced Antioinette Jane “Toni” Raymond on Friday to a year behind bars on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault and three months for contributing to the delinquency, abuse or neglect of a minor, The Sun Herald reported.

Krebs suspended some of the sentence, leaving Raymond with three months to serve and $1,000 in fines, the newspaper reported. She is to begin serving the sentence April 1.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A video that the child’s family provided to the Sun Herald showed Raymond threatening to send the St. Martin Middle School student to jail, choke her, put soap in her mouth and even kill her if she didn’t shut up and sit still.

The disabled girl’s grandfather, Thomas Pearce, said he had hoped to see Raymond serve more time behind bars. He told the judge what happened to his granddaughter affected everyone in his family.

He said the girl’s mother became so distraught after learning that Raymond and a teacher, also indicted in the case, were facing only misdemeanor charges that she began using drugs, overdosed at a casino and died.

“I don’t have a job and my mother doesn’t have a job because I have to stay home to take care of her (the child),” he said. “The video speaks for itself. She (Raymond) has affected a lot of people, not only my children but the other children on the bus. They are scared to death. They thought she was going to do to the same to them.”

Krebs reviewed video footage of the assault by Raymond and co-defendant, former teacher Kerri Anne Nettles. The difference between the two defendants, he said, is that once Nettles told Raymond there was a camera on the bus recording them, Nettles stopped assaulting the girl but Raymond continued.

“At the same time,” Krebs said, “there is no evil in Ms. Raymond’s heart.”

Raymond said she never received any training to work with special needs children, though Nettles had.

Just before her sentencing, Raymond took responsibility for her actions though she asked for understanding and leniency.

She said she wanted to apologize to the child.

“Since she is not here, I have to say sorry to her family and to you. I was under a bad spot in my life at that time. It was like I was just going through the motions of living. I am not a monster. I had a bad time.”

Two people spoke Friday on Raymond’s behalf, including a former student who said she was good to him, and D’Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave, who asked for leniency.

He said he had seen Raymond helping students and stopping at his store to treat the kids to ice cream or other items.

Nettle received a six-month suspended prison sentence and a fine for her role in the assault.