Photo credit: Autumn Driscoll, CT Post newspaper
That's me holding the 84 page petition (with a Bella on top), 1099 signatures and comments from around the world after the court decision. Thank you to everyone who signed. Guzman did receive penalties. She has two years probation, she lost her license to drive any vehicle for two years, must pay a $500 fine to an autism org (I've already recommended a local org to the State's attorney) perform 200 hours of community service and more - I'll need to read the transcript for final results. That said, at the end of the two years, if she meets the terms of her probation, she will have her record expunged and be able to apply for any job she wants. The article below is from The CT Post newspaper. Kim
By Daniel Tepfer
BRIDGEPORT -- Despite the angry objections by nearly a dozen Trumbull parents a state Superior Court judge granted a special probation program for a former Trumbull school bus driver accused of texting while driving a busload of special need children.
Evelyn Guzman, of Henry Avenue in Stratford, will not be allowed to drive for two years and was ordered by Judge Earl Richards to apologize to the parents in the courtroom Friday morning.
But Guzman later backtracked outside the courtroom, blaming the parents for her situation.
Guzman was charged in March with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree reckless endangerment by Trumbull police following a 10-month investigation.
Police said she sent and received a total of 1,068 text messages from April 6, 2010 to May 15, 2010.
The investigation began after an assault complaint was made against Guzman's daughter, 24-year-old Jennifer Davila, who was working as a bus monitor on Guzman's bus.
Davila was arrested in August for allegedly assaulting a 9-year-old autistic girl multiple times while the girl was riding on the bus. Davila's case is still pending, and she's scheduled to appear in court April 1. She was arrested in August for allegedly assaulting a 9-year-old autistic girl multiple times while she was on the bus....
Read the full story at CT Post.
My statement to the court:
Good morning, Your Honor. And thank you for this opportunity. My name is Kim Stagliano. My husband Mark and I have three daughters with autism. Our youngest Isabella rode Evelyn Guzman’s elementary school special education bus. Last week, Ms. Guzman’s daughter Jennifer Davila pleaded guilty under the Alford Doctrine to second-degree reckless endangerment after having been arrested for assaulting Bella numerous times on the school bus. It was the video tape review for that case that lead Detective Kevin Hammel to discover Ms. Guzman’s continuous texting and lack of attention to the road. For our Bella, that bus was a rolling torture chamber.
Distracted driving is a national emergency. As a judge, you have before you today an opportunity to send a clear message to CT and the country, that drivers, especially paid commercial drivers, will face the stiffest penalties for endangering everyone on the road.
I have here a petition that I started last Friday. There are 1099 signatures from concerned people around the world asking you to please deny Evelyn Guzman the privilege of accelerated rehabilitation.
Every day she chose to text while driving, she could have killed the children on the bus. She could have killed her own daughter and her grandchildren, who rode her bus as a makeshift daycare center. She showed no regard for fellow drivers or even the unsuspecting person standing at their mailbox or taking a baby for walk.
According to the Trumbull schools transportation department, Guzman’s Verizon records showed 27 minutes of texting during a single 28 minute bus route. This may be her first arrest, but it’s hardly a first time offense, as the bus videotapes show over and over. This case has been featured in the national TV, Internet and print news. I hope to be able to tell the millions of people watching this case that she will stand and face her charges without benefit of accelerated rehabilitation.
April is Autism Awareness month, I can’t think of a better way to voice our support, than to protect the children, like my Bella, who can not speak for or protect themselves.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her book from Skyhorse Publishing, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa; A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism is available now. Visit her website at Kim Stagliano.