GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - A Pitt County teaching assistant assaulted a handicapped student by choking, punching and kicking him, according to the warrants for her arrest.
Cherry Tillery Taylor, 55, a teaching assistant at Elmhurst Elementary School in Greenville, was arrested on Thursday. The warrants state that Taylor choked the handicapped student with her hands and arm. According to the warrants, Taylor also punched the student in the stomach and kicked the victim on the side.
In addition, the warrants allege that Taylor took the student's own fist and made him punch himself three to four times on his nose, causing it to bleed.
According to Brock Letchworth of Pitt County Schools, school officials were told that Taylor assaulted a student on Nov. 5. The suspect was suspended the following day.
Taylor has been charged with four felony counts of assault on a handicapped person, records showed. She has since bonded out of jail.
On Thursday, Elmhurst Elementary's principal notified the parents of the students in that classroom and staff members.
Below is the district's official statement:
"In accordance with federal law, the school system is limited in what it can say about specific personnel matters, especially those that are related to a criminal investigation. However, any charge of assault is an unacceptable matter that the staff and Board of Education take very seriously. In this matter, the district acted promptly. We have worked closely with law enforcement, and there are currently no student safety concerns at Elmhurst Elementary."
Taylor remains suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Letchworth said.
According to the school system, Taylor had a previous suspension on Dec. 19, 2011 for disciplinary reasons. She was re-instated on Jan. 5, 2012.
Taylor had also worked as teaching assistant at J.H. Rose High School from Jan. 29, 2007 to Aug. 20, 2012.
A neighbor who knows the suspect well said he was in disbelief when he heard about the allegations
"I don't think it's true because I don't find Ms. Taylor to be a violent person," said Michael Rushing, who has known her for about six years. "She has never come off violent at me or anybody that she has ever been around."