News Article Details

Northwest Area, former aide sued for injuries to autistic boy

Times Leader - 4/27/2019

April 27-- Apr. 27--SCRANTON -- A lawsuit filed in federal court this week names the Northwest Area School District, a transportation company and numerous other individuals as defendants, with the parents of an autistic child claiming they are responsible for allowing an aide to injure their child on a transportation vehicle.

That former aide, who also is named as a defendant, previously admitted her involvement in the case and was admitted into the county's accelerated rehabilitative disposition program.

The suit was filed this week by James and April Bohnam by and through their attorney, Scranton-based Joseph Price, on behalf of their minor son.

According to the suit, the Bonhams' son was injured by Susan Bobersky, 70, of Shickshinny, who was assigned as an aide on the van the boy rode to school. The injuries occurred in April 2017. The van was chartered by Barchik Bus Service and driven by Abraham Monroe, both of whom are also named as defendants.

The boy, who the suit says is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and a series of other disabilities, came home with severe bruising one day, severe enough that it led to the boy being kept home from school the next day.

The suit says the Bonhams took the boy to see his pediatrician, asking if a new medication he had been put on would increase the chances of bruising. They were told this was not the case.

A review of the boy's monitored daily schedule revealed the bruising likely would have occurred during his ride either to or from school that day.

Meanwhile, a second minor child on the van came home from school crying, saying that a "lady named Sue," identified in the suit as Bobersky, had been very rough with the Bonham's son.

This second boy's mother came up with a plan, instructed her son to bring the family's iPad with him, and videotape the next time Bobersky was violent with the boy.

This tape, recorded on April 27, 2017, allegedly shows Bobersky screaming in the boy's face and smacking him, along with grabbing the boy by his hair and "ripping his head and neck over the top of his car seat harness."

Meanwhile, the suit alleges, Monroe continued driving the van "stoically."

Price told a Times Leader reporter that the Bonhams' son suffers long-lasting effects of Bobersky's actions. The boy needs weekly chiropractic adjustments due to his injuries and suffers from significant headaches.

Price also said the boy continues to live in fear of Bobersky.

"Any time he hears the name 'Sue'... he shuts down," Price said.

Bobersky no longer works with the Northwest Area School District, and court records show she was admitted to the ARD program in 2018, a program reserved for first-time offenders whose crimes lend themselves towards treatment and rehabilitation over incarceration. To be accepted into the program requires an admission of guilt, the suit says.

The Bonham family's suit claims, among other things, that the defendants' actions combine into a violation of the boy's 14th amendment rights to be free from physical harm, and for Bobersky's assault and battery of their child.

The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Attempts to reach the Northwest Area School District's solicitor, Angela Evans, were unsuccessful on Friday.

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

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(c)2019 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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