Three Okaloosa School Employees Charged in Autistic Child Abuse Case

Okaloosa County, Fla. - A Fort Walton Beach teacher is charged with four counts of child abuse in connection with treatment of an autistic child while she was employed at Kenwood Elementary School, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Officials wrote in a news release.

The former principal and a school district employee also face charges for not reporting allegations made against the teacher to the state’s child abuse hotline as required by law.

In May the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office began investigating a parent’s complaint in reference to alleged child abuse involving his now six-year-old child, who is non-verbal. The child’s father said he had learned of the existence of a 2015-2016 investigation by the Okaloosa County School District into possible abuse involving 59-year-old teacher Marlynn Stillions of Destin.

The allegations included spraying special needs students in the face with water or vinegar as punishment, using her foot to try to control/move/push a child on the floor, and kneeing the victim in the chin. The father got a copy of the District’s “Investigative Summary Report” and turned it over to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, which launched its own independent criminal investigation. 

Based upon the sworn statements of multiple witnesses and other information gathered the OCSO has charged Stillions with four counts of child abuse without great bodily harm. 70-year old School District employee Arden Farley of Niceville, who conducts internal investigations for the School District, is charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, as is former Kenwood Elementary Principal Angelyn Vaughan of Fort Walton Beach.

OCSO Investigators say Farley and Vaughan were aware of the allegations and failed to make a mandatory report to the Florida Department of Children and Families Abuse Hotline as required by Florida law. 


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