Former Columbia Public School teacher charged with assaulting student

Former Columbia Public School teacher...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A 13-year Columbia Public School employee was fired from his position after allegations of inappropriately touching a middle school student with a disability.

Thomas Edwards was charged on March 21 in Boone County Court with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.

According to the probable cause statement, Edwards placed his hand under the child's clothing and touched his/her buttock. The alleged incident happened sometime between August 2015 and February 2017 at Oakland Middle School.

Michelle Baumstark, a CPS spokesperson, said Edwards started working for the district in September 2003 as a paraprofessional. She said he was terminated from his classroom aide position in February 2017.

Baumstark said she couldn't comment further on the ongoing investigation, personnel matter or whether parents were notified about the alleged incident and Edwards' termination.

Court documents claim the student spoke about Edwards' contact during a forensic interview at the Rainbow House in Columbia.

Tracy Gonzalez, assisting prosecuting attorney, said she could also not provide comment on the ongoing investigation. She said in regard to child abuse and neglect cases, forensic interviews are an important part in obtaining statements from the children.

Edwards was arrested on Feb. 23 at the CPS Administration Building, according to Bryana Larimer, a Columbia Police spokesperson. Edwards posted a $500 cash bond the same day. He's scheduled for a case review on April 25 at 9 a.m.

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