A 52-year-old Maryland man has been charged with second-degree child cruelty after allegedly striking an autistic child in the head at a D.C. public school on Friday.
According to a police report, the incident took place about 10:45 a.m. at the Whittier Education Campus in Northwest Washington. It was there, police said, that Michael Dunn of Hyattsville struck the child. The child’s head slammed into a computer, causing the child to vomit, the report said.
Dunn is an instructional aide at the school, according to court documents. He was working with another aide Friday in a classroom with seven students, whose primary teacher was absent that day, the court documents state.
Police did not specify the child’s gender or age, but court documents refer to the child as “he.”
Officials from the school could not be reached for comment Saturday.
The court documents state that a classroom aide told police she was working at a computer when she suddenly heard the boy crying. The aide said she overheard Dunn using “demeaning and inappropriate language” with the child before he slapped the boy’s head, causing him to vomit and cry hysterically.
The aide said she has been Dunn’s co-worker for about four months. She told police that after striking the boy, Dunn threw a towel at him and told him to clean himself up.
When shown a photo of Dunn and asked what the man did to him, the boy — who police said is autistic and has limited communication skills — wrote “smack head.”
A school resource officer reported the alleged assault, and the child was taken to the Children’s National Medical Center for Treatment. The school’s principal was also notified.
According to court documents, Dunn told detectives he suffers from epilepsy and does not always remember events that occurred when he suffers a seizure. He said he recalled the victim crying before he threw up, but it did not cause him to become frustrated or stressed.
Dunn pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Saturday. He was released and ordered to stay away from the Whittier Education Campus and all children under 12 associated with the school.
Following his court appearance, Dunn said the allegations against him were “not true” but declined to comment further. Dunn’s attorney declined to comment.
Dunn is scheduled to appear in court again Nov. 16 for a status hearing.