San Angelo Preschool Teacher Gets Jail Time for Abusing Her Student

SAN ANGELO, TX — A San Angelo woman was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a plea deal and guilty plea was accepted in front of 51st District Court Judge Carmen Dusek.

Justice Marie Thomas, 27, pleaded guilty in court of injury to a child with intentional bodily injury.

Thomas’ charges stem from a San Angelo Police Department investigation that began shortly after the mother of a child went to the administration of the Trinity Lutheran Early Childhood Center.

The mom told the administration that she believed her child had been assaulted. She demanded to see the classroom's surveillance video but was denied access by the school. School administrators instead ensured her that they made a report with CPS.

A police officer went to the school to see what was on the tape. The officer watched the video of what happened in the classroom that day. The video started in the early part of the day. While students were taking tests Thomas is seen on video yelling at the child. Later in the video Thomas is heard telling the child that law enforcement was going to arrest her and put her in jail.

The child is then seen on the video throwing a pencil case. Thomas walked around the child’s desk and pushed the child to the ground. She then grabbed the child, forcefully picked the child back up, and shoved the pencil case into the child's torso. 

Thomas then took the child into the hallway. Officers claimed that while in the hallway, leading to the door of the classroom, Thomas grabbed the child by the right arm and forcefully jerked and pulled the child back to the main area of the classroom. During this engagement the child can be seen on video swinging in the air.

The video continued. It showed Thomas telling the child to "go" and the child walking their desk while holding their right arm. Thomas then commanded the child to get into the classroom closet. While in the closet the door was shut and the lights were turned off. The child was left in the closet for around forty seconds. After her time was up, Thomas opened the door and continued to yell at the child. 

"At one point it sounds as though Thomas hits the child however it is not seen what occurs because the door to the closet is blocking the view," stated the affidavit. "It should be noted during the entire incident it is obvious that the child is scared, crying, screaming for her parents, and pleading with Thomas." 

Police interviewed some of the 12 other students who witnessed the incident. Police spoke with the child who told them that Thomas had said mean things to her. She also told officers that Thomas had hurt her arm by pinching it and hurt her face by hitting it.

Thomas was then interviewed. She claimed that she remembered parts of the day but did not remember assaulting the child. She also said that she believed that she had some type of medical issue that cause her memory loss and aggressive behavior. Police checked her medical records and found no evidence that would negate Thomas' mental state. 

In court today, 51st DA Allison Palmer argued Thomas should receive some jail time as the court considered whether or not jail should be required as a condition for Thomas’ probation. The prosecution called witnesses as did the defense. Even Thomas took the stand in her own defense.

In the end, as a condition of receiving 10 years deferred adjudication probation and a $2,500 fine, Judge Dusek ordered jail time. After the testimony, the court signed an order for Thomas to spend 180 days in the Tom Green County Detention Center as a condition of her probation. Attorney Fred C. Brigman, III represented Thomas.

Jail time in the county facility, not the TDCJ, is allowed as a condition for probation even in a deferred adjudication sentence.


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