School Bus Aide Accused of Breaking Autistic Boy’s ArmS

A Long Island school bus attendant has been accused of breaking a 5-year-old autistic’s boy arm on Monday. According to Suffolk County police, Richard Mason, 39, was attempting to discipline the young boy when he “grabbed the child’s arm and pulled it behind his back, fracturing it.” The child also sustained bruises to his face and abdomen.

The child’s mother, Desiree Johnston-Shirangi, described her version of the incident to CBS 2:

“Connor was swinging his feet and kicking the seat of the bus and Mr. Mason apparently got upset and handled him the way you wouldn’t handle anybody,” the boy’s mother, Desiree Johnston-Shirangi said. “From what the doctors are saying, he used excessive force on my child.”

“My son was going through this and the fear that he had to the point that he urinated in his pants and I wasn’t there,” Johnston-Shirangi said.

But Mason has a different story. He told News 12 Long Island that that boy was “pounding his hand against the window and to prevent the window from shattering, I blocked him." Mason’s sister has also responded to the accusations, saying he’s “very gentle, he’s kind, he loves kids.” Many commenters here agree, questioning Johnston-Shirangi’s narrative, saying Mason has been a great aid to their special needs children. Melanie Donus writes:

I happen to know richard very well...my 5 year old non verbal child with autism was on that bus. Richard has been good to us and Maxx loved him! There were 2 brothers fighting on the bus and he was trying to break it up. My heart goes out to the parents as i can imagine how they feel, however I am waiting to hear more details of the investigation before i form an opinion.

Mason pled not guilty Thursday to charges of third degree assault and acting in a manner to injure a child. He has also been suspended from his job.

[Screengrab via CBS2]