Florida Teacher Charged with Child Abuse after Being Awarded “Teacher of the Year”
Two days after being named “Teacher of the Year,” Caroline Lee was arrested for child abuse of a student. According to the Duval School’s police report, Lee called the student into her classroom to speak privately and allegedly struck the student’s face. Prior to the incident, the Duval County Public School’s Instagram account posted a photo of Caroline Lee to congratulate her on being named “Teacher of the Year.” The comment section of the post contained criticism of Lee. Some students did not believe she deserved the award and described why they were unhappy with Lee receiving the award.
On Friday, October 29, 2021, Lee asked to speak with a student who commented on the post. The student told the police that Lee reached across the table and struck her. According to the student, Lee struck her several times, causing her nose to bleed. Lee told police that her classroom door was left open when the student entered, but another present student claimed that Lee asked him to leave the room and shut the door behind him. This student reported hearing Lee raise her voice from where he stood in the hallway. Police arrested Lee the morning after they spoke with the student, Lee, and four other witnesses. The witnesses were not eyewitnesses to the incident because no one else was in the classroom with Lee and the student.
Possible Defenses for Child Abuse and Aggravated Child Abuse
If you face child abuse charges, your first step is to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can explain all of your available defenses and help protect your rights. Some defenses your attorney may use include:
The Right to Discipline
Parents and certain professionals (i.e., teachers, caregivers, and legal guardians) have the right to administer physical discipline to a child as long as it doesn’t result in physical injury. When a child is marginally bruised as a result of physical discipline, this is not considered child abuse.
Child abuse cases sometimes involve falsely reported crimes. Whether a child abuse report comes from mandatory reporting laws, a child custody battle, or a divorce, some reports lack sufficient evidence that the crime occurred. In some cases, the person reporting the incident might not fully understand the laws relating to child abuse.
The Injury Results from an Accident
To prove that a crime of child abuse or aggravated child abuse was committed, the state must show that the injury resulted from abuse. Children are prone to injury because they are still developing, and they can trip or fall without a parent noticing. Accidental injury cannot serve as a basis for a child abuse charge because the crime of child abuse requires the intent to injure or harm the child.
Lack of Evidence Demonstrating Significant Bodily Harm
This defense is specifically for the charge of aggravated child abuse. In an aggravated child abuse crime, the state must show that the accused caused significant bodily harm (i.e., permanent disability or disfigurement) to the child. The absence of significant bodily harm can be used as a defense against the charge of aggravated child abuse.
Contact the Experienced Orlando Sex Crimes Lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm
Being charged with something as serious as child abuse is likely to be deeply upsetting and challenging. At The Umansky Law Firm, we understand the severity and complexity of these charges, and we are committed to providing our clients with excellent legal services and counsel.
Our dedicated team of sex crimes lawyers knows how to represent those who want a fair chance in the fight for their lives against the state. By prioritizing personalized strategies and aggressive trial tactics, we ensure that our clients’ best interests are always represented. To schedule a consultation, you can call our office or fill out our contact form.