Sumter mom sues school district for abuse of autistic son

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - A Sumter mother has filed a lawsuit against a Midlands school district because of what she says is negligence. According to the suit, the woman's son was abused by a school bus aide.

"He was grabbed around the neck and pushed into the window, pushed down to a seat, punched in his stomach," said Melodee Kinyon-Davis.    

The description is like something that would happen during a fight. The mom says it wasn't a fight, but her son is a victim. "I called the police as soon as I found out," said Davis.

In June, Sumter County deputies arrested and charged 19-year-old James Michael Porter with assault and battery on a 10-year-old. The boy, who has autism, is Melodee Kinyon-Davis' son Malcolm. She says the crimes all happened on the school bus, where Porter was a bus aide.

"He would come home off the bus and he'd be crying or he'll be in a bad mood," said Davis. "By him being autistic, it's easy to read his moods." 

But Davis says her son's disability made it hard for her to understand what was happening. She says his change in demeanor started in November 2009, but it wasn't until March 2010 she learned from a friend's son who rode the bus one day what was happening. "I was upset that I couldn't understand my son," said Davis.

On Thursday, Davis' attorney filed a lawsuit against Sumter County School District Two and James Porter, accusing them of negligence. Meanwhile, Porter is out of jail on bond and awaiting trial for the assault charge. "I have to defend him, I have to fight for him because he cannot fight for himself," said Davis.

We tried calling the district several times to speak to an official about our story, but no one returned our calls. We even went to the district office trying to get a response, but were told everyone from the superintendent to the district attorney was unavailable for comment.

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