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L.I. School Bus Attendant Accused Of Breaking 5-Year-Old Autistic Boy’s Arm

Richard Mason Pleads Not Guilty To Assault, Other Charges

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island school bus attendant has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a 5-year-old autistic boy.

Richard Mason, 39, a bus aide for Acme Bus Corp., grabbed Connor Shirangi’s arm and twisted it behind his back while trying to discipline the boy, police said.

The incident happened on a school bus around 4 p.m. Monday in Commack, police said.

“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.”

Connor’s arm was fractured and he also sustained bruises to his face and abdomen, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.

“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.

Johnston-Shirangi also told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan that the injuries to her son were severe and consistent with excessive force.

“Excessive force was used and my child was severely injured. Aside from the broken arm he has bruising about the waist consistent with being tied down,” she said.

Connor Shirangi (credit: Desiree Johnston-Shirangi)

Connor Shirangi (credit: Desiree Johnston-Shirangi)

Mason of Brentwood pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of third-degree assault and acting in a manner to injure a child. He was released on his own recognizance.

Tensions were high at the courthouse.

An altercation broke out in the hallway when Johnston-Shirangi was confronted by Mason’s family, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

“I’m not moving away from you, your uncle didn’t move away from my son when he was beating him,” Johnston-Shirangi told Mason’s niece, Anisha Fluellen.

“He didn’t beat your son,” Fluellen responded.

“He’s not like that…he’s not violent and this is really aggravating right now,” she added.

“He’s very gentle, he’s kind, he loves kids,” Mason’s sister, Anita Harris, said.

Mason has been suspended from his job.

The Commack school district issued the following statement Thursday: Yesterday we were advised that an incident occurred involving Commack students on a school bus operated by ACME Bus Company. ACME had been contracted by the District to provide mini-bus transportation for Commack students. The defendant is an employee of ACME not the School District.

As soon as we learned of the allegations, we immediately confirmed that the defendant had been removed from any and all District routes and will have no contact with our students. ACME has assured the District that the driver assistant had been properly screened and trained and that he had no prior incidents. The District will fully cooperate with the police in their investigation and, as always, the safety and welfare of children is our paramount concern.”

Johnston-Shirangi said that thus far the district had been helpful.

“The school district is doing everything it can, not only to protect my child, but to protect other children,” she said.

Conor’s parents were speaking with a lawyer and considering a suit against the bus company.

CBS 2 has reached out to Acme Bus Corp. for comment.

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