Paraeducator Brett Christy Hamilton aided a seven-year-old disabled girl at Whitman elementary in using the restroom two years ago. On November 3rd, 2015, the girl’s mother accused Hamilton of sexually abusing her child, attempting to sue PPS for $7.5 million.
With the accusations made, Hamilton was arrested, but later released on a $50,000 bail which was paid by his father, a former Lincoln High School principal. Hamilton was then on paid leave for 15 months and was restricted by the Human Services Department from seeing his newborn child until the charges were cleared.
This all led to an intense six day trial, where Hamilton was found not guilty by Judge David Rees. The student could not fully articulate her responses when asked questions on the stand, despite doctors saying she would be able to. Her mother claimed to understand her daughter’s responses, but Rees needed strong evidence of the abuse before declaring Hamilton guilty. Rees later spoke with the child without her mother present, where lawyers asked her yes or no questions— the judge was concerned that the questions asked were leading questions.
The lawsuit claims that PPS was at fault for being negligent of a blanket policy that required two staff members to be in the bathroom when helping a child. “You are not required to have two staff,” said Franklin paraeducator Garrett Chong. “If you looked at a job description of a paraeducator at PPS, I don’t believe there is law requiring same gendered staff either,” said Chong. After the lawsuit was filed, a district spokeswoman said there was no such policy.
Throughout the trial, Hamilton expressed discontent with helping children in the bathroom at all. While Hamilton was employed at Whitman, he said he had to help or faced the threat of being fired.
Since the close of the trial, Hamilton has been granted paid leave and will not be re-employed until further district investigation has concluded.