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Polk County Para-Educator Arrested For Child Abuse

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Bartow Police Department Press Release

On 12/11/2017, the school resource officer at Jean O’Dell Learning Center was advised of a child abuse incident which occurred during the prior week. Officer Toni Strickland learned that on 12/4/2017 a para-educator with the school, identified as Pamela Ann Murphy, was observed striking a disabled student on the face. Officer Strickland immediately initiated an investigation into this incident. Based upon this investigation, it was determined that the incident was witnessed by another para-educator, identified as Shefah Waher of Winter Haven. Waher confirmed that on 12/4/2017, she observed Murphy interacting with a 7 year old disabled student in the school’s courtyard. Waher advised that the male student, who is non-verbal and intellectually disabled, became upset and began to “kick” his feet toward Murphy. The witness advised that she observed Murphy strike the child on the face with an open hand.


During the investigation, Waher disclosed that this was not the first incident of abuse involving Murphy. Waher advised that on 11/17/2017, she observed Murphy act inappropriate with a 10 year old disabled female student at the school. According to Waher, while in a classroom at the school, the child obtained Murphy’s water bottle and began to drink from the bottle. Upon observing this, Murphy took the bottle from the child and referred to the child as a “bitch”. Murphy then poured the remainder of the water in the bottle over the disabled child’s head. No injuries were reported in either incident.

Based upon this, officers made contact with Murphy who denied any wrongdoing and refused to speak with investigators. Murphy was arrested and charged with (2) counts of Child Abuse.

Arrestee: PAMELA ANN MURPHY W/F 4/27/1958 of Bartow Florida

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