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COLUMBUS, Wis. – A former Columbus music teacher is facing a child abuse charge on suspicion of slapping a student on the thigh last year.
According to court records, Aristotle A. Esguerra is facing one count of physical abuse to a child and intentionally causing bodily harm.
The criminal complaint said a Columbia County Police Department officer said a witness contacted him on Dec. 10 to report a child was struck by a teacher at school and hurt Dec. 7.
The child told the officer they began to cry and that Esguerra whispered to him, “I won’t be here next year because of what I just did to you.”
The officer met with the witness Dec. 11 and discussed the incident. The witness told the officer it happened at St. Jerome School in Columbus when Esguerra hit the child’s thigh with enough force to form a bruise the next day.
The school’s principal, Jamie L. Cotter, told the witness about their involvement in the incident through the phone Dec. 7.
The witness told officials the child had behavioral problems. Esguerra had told the child to step away from the other students when they were misbehaving in class.
Esguerra hit the child on the thigh with an open hand after the child refused to step away. The complaint said Esguerra brought the child to the principal and reported the incident after class was finished. The child told Cotter their leg hurt from the blow.
The principal told the witness that she gave the child an ice pack and that there would be consequences for the teacher, but only after Dec. 16. This was because the school’s Christmas concert was on the 16th, a program that Esguerra was entirely running and responsible for.
Meanwhile, the child was taken to a hospital for the bruise on their leg.
The witness told Cotter that Esguerra’s music class was to have another staff member in attendance when the child returned to class.
Cotter notified the Diocese of Madison of the situation Dec. 10. The Diocese directed that the principal fire Esguerra immediately and escort him off campus.
The witness said Cotter did not take the incident seriously and was concerned as to why she did not inform the Diocese until that afternoon.
The complaint said when an official came to the school and spoke with Cotter, she sighed and said “I did not think they were going to report it.”
If convicted, Esguerra will be fined a maximum of $10,000, face up to six years in prison or both.
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