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Bus driver, prosecutor reach deal

December 12, 2012
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - An agreement has been reached in the case involving a Blue Earth Area school bus driver who allegedly slapped a child passenger.

The agreement between Jane Brooks, 72, of Blue Earth and the state has been filed in Faribault County District Court.

Under the deal, Brooks promises to have no assault-related or disorderly conduct-related violations for a year. If she successfully completes the terms, the state will dismiss the complaint. If she fails, the state could reinstate criminal proceedings.

"That is the only condition, that she have no assault-related behaviors," said prosecutor Troy Timmerman.

"She doesn't have to enter a plea for this," he added. "The benefit for her is she doesn't have to admit to any wrongdoing. The benefit for the state is if we have to reinstate the criminal proceedings, there is no plea agreement.

"In this case, you try to tailor the plea agreement to the person and the situation," said Timmerman, adding, "I don't expect any violations from her."

Charges of fifth-degree assault were brought against Brooks after an incident on her afternoon bus route on Sept. 14. According to the complaint:

A 6-year-old boy was hitting other children, making a smaller child cry. When Brooks tried to separate the boy from the other children, he resisted being moved and kept spitting.

Brooks stopped the bus again to deal with the boy, even asking older children to act as babysitters, but they refused.

She radioed for help from the school, but was told they could not provide assistance. The school recommended Brooks move the boy away from the other children.

After the boy kept spitting on other children, Brooks reportedly slapped him across the face.

Timmerman said schools, doctors and other entities are considered "mandatory reporters" under the law, meaning they are required to report any "maltreatment of a child" to authorities.

Police, in turn, must investigate and turn over their findings to prosecutors, who make the decision whether to press charges.

"This was a very difficult case to decide to [press charges]," Timmerman said. "It had a person in authority striking a young child in the face."

Paul Edman, attorney for Brooks, did not return a phone call seeking comment.



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