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A Williamsburg-James City County school bus driver and school bus aide have been arrested and charged with the assault and battery of a nine-year-old special needs student.
Kenneth and Laura Spencer, who are husband and wife, were allegedly caught on video verbally abusing, spitting on, striking and restraining the student, who was on a bus specially equipped for special needs students and strapped into a harness, which prevented him from exiting the seat.
Kenneth Spencer, 49, was the driver and is charged with one count of assault and battery and one count of felony abduction, according to a recent release from the James City County Police Department. The aide, Laura Spencer, also 49, is charged with assault and battery. Both are residents of the City of Williamsburg.
James City County Social Services and the WJCC School Administration contacted JCCPD on June 7 in reference to an assault that had occurred on a school bus on June 3. The incident was caught on a bus camera, but due to the nature of the investigation the video will not be released to the public.
The incident began when the student became disruptive during the bus ride home that day, according to the release.
Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Rubino described the video as “long” and “hard to watch,” stating that on separate occasions both the aide and the driver verbally abuse, restrain, strike and spit on the victim.
The release also states the driver and aide are accused of pinning the victim to his seat, slapping him, pushing him and forcing his arms over his mouth.
“The child at times indicates that he’s in pain and cannot breathe,” Rubino said.
Though both parties restrained the victim in some capacity, Rubino said a difference in how the driver and aide went about restraining him accounts for Kenneth Spencer being charged with abduction in addition to assault and battery.
Rubino said he has no knowledge of either party’s criminal record, but Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court records show Kenneth Spencer was charged with and found guilty of reckless driving in 2014. He appealed the decision and had the charge reduced to improper driving, which is an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
Laura Spencer has been released on $1,500 secured bond and Kenneth Spencer is currently being held on a $2,500 secured bond.
“This was a joint investigation with the school system and social services, and of course it’s going to be an ongoing investigation,” Rubino said. “Both of [the accused] are going to have hearings in court and we’re continuing to review video footage from the camera.”