Share and Follow
An elementary school bus driver in Pennsylvania is facing multiple felony charges for allegedly using duct tape to restrain a 10-year-old child in his seat, wrapping the boy’s ankles, arms, and chest with the adhesive so extensively that a seat belt cutter was required to get him free.
Juliet Lee Pratt was charged on Tuesday with one count each of unlawful restraint of a minor by a non-parent, false imprisonment of a minor by a non-parent, and endangering the welfare of a child, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
“Bus drivers are entrusted with enormous responsibility every time they get behind the wheel. In addition to being safe drivers, we also expect them to treat the children in their care with dignity and respect,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said in a statement after the charges against Pratt were filed. “Using duct tape on a child who was already fully restrained in the vehicle’s harness was not only inexcusable, it was also dangerous. Had an accident occurred, this child would have been unable to free himself from the tape. There is simply no excuse for this conduct, which is why these charges have been filed.”
According to a press release from the DA’s office, officers with the Upper Darby Police Department on the morning of March 8, 2023, responded to a call from Hillcrest Elementary School in Drexel Hill regarding a report about a bus driver allegedly assaulting a 10-year-old male student. Drexel Hill is located less than 10 miles west of Philadelphia.
Officers obtained footage from a surveillance camera on the bus which they say showed Pratt using duct tape to restrain the boy in his seat. Making matters worse, the tape allegedly did not show the child acting out or even attempting to leave his seat.
“The student was seated on the bus in the district-supplied safety harness,” the release states. “Upon arriving at the school, the defendant used a seat belt cutter to remove the tape from the child. At no time was the student observed trying to get out of his seat or otherwise move around the bus.”
In an interview with police, Pratt allegedly told investigators that she had also used duct tape to restrain the same student on at least one other occasion, the PhillyVoice reported.
Pratt was taken into custody following the incident and released the following day after she posted bond of $25,000.
In an email to Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU, Pratt’s defense attorney, Arthur Thomas Donato Jr., reportedly said that Pratt’s actions “were not malicious” and that she was simply trying to “restrain the boy from excessively kicking the bus and other students.”
Donato did not immediately respond to an email from Law&Crime seeking comment on the case against his client.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]