Surveillance footage taken from inside a Wisconsin high school shows what some say is a teacher abusing a student with special needs.
David Bessette, 44, is now facing one count of causing mental harm to a child, and one count of child abuse, stemming from the alleged incident at Little Wolf Junior/Senior High School in Manawa, Wisconsin. Both charges are felonies.
According to a criminal complaint, Bessette allegedly dragged a 13-year-old student with autism by his arm, legs, and even doused him with water, which caused the student to take his clothes off. The incident was reported in February.
Fourteen minutes of security footage captured the ordeal.
In the complaint, the head of the special education department at Little Wolf High School says "you can see the student being pulled across the floor by Mr. Bessette ... touching the student's head and face ... and yanking the student back."
Faculty members said the student has autism, is "non-verbal," "loves to learn," is "at a first grade level," and struggles with Bessette.
But what upsets so many is the moment when Bessette is seen allegedly pouring water on the student.
Staff members said "everyone is aware" that wet clothing irritates the student, who "has to change" his clothes if "any little drop" of water touches them. The student then strips naked in the video, which staff say "was not" his fault.
"My oldest son's in high school up there," said Manawa resident Mike Reeck, who remembered hearing about the incident in February.
Reeck said he'd like to know more about the incident and didn't want to jump to conclusions. "If he was mistreated, we need to look into it, and fix the problem if there's a problem," Reeck said.
"Well, I'm shocked that it happened," said Joyce Bussian, "and it's just sad."
Other staff said in the complaint they've heard Bessette say to students he should "hit them beside the head," though they added he's never followed through that they know of.
One faculty member admitted she "wouldn't trust [Bessette] with her child."
Bessette was fired from his job in February. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 21.