BREAKING: Local School Staff Charged in Connection with Assaults of Special Needs Children

Three Fairfax County Public School teachers — including two local residents — were charged in connection with the assaults of six children with intellectual disabilities at Freedom Hill Elementary in Vienna.

Cylmeera Gastav, 48 of Herndon, and Cecilia Maria Benavides, 59, of Alexandria, were charged with felony cruelty, injuries to children, misdemeanor assault and battery. They were placed on leave after the investigation began.

The school’s former principal, Scott Bloom, 39, of Reston, was charged with failing to report the abuse to law enforcement of child protective services, as required by law. A total of 18 counts were handed down by a jury.

Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said described the victims as “nonverbal students with intellectual disabilities” and pledged to provide support to victims and their families as the case is prosecuted in the justice system.

The Fairfax County Police Department conducted a press briefing on the investigation, which has been ongoing since September, earlier today. A teacher tipped law enforcement about the incidents.

Marty Smith, chief operating officer for Fairfax County Public Schools, said he was deeply disturbed by the allegations.

“We are deeply saddened by this situation and resolve to do all we can to support our students, their families and others who have been impacted,” Smith said.

Photo via FCPD

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