Meredith school worker is charged with assaulting 7-year-olds, weeks after similar incident

Associated Press

Published: 02-02-2024 8:23 AM

MEREDITH, N.H. — A New Hampshire man was charged Thursday with assaulting two 7-year-old children at an elementary school, two weeks after similar charges were filed against another worker at the school.

Manchester Police said witnesses saw 24-year-old William O’Connell, a behavior technician at Parker-Varney Elementary School, throw a 7-year-old boy to the ground, causing him facial injuries. Police said he also put a 7-year-old girl onto the floor in a hard manner, but she wasn’t injured.

The charges come after another behavioral worker was charged with assaulting a 7-year-old student at the same school in an unrelated incident. Both men worked for Applied ABC, a contracted provider for the Manchester School District.

Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais said the “horrific” incidents raised serious concerns about the suitability of Applied ABC to be providing services, and he was thankful the school district was now thoroughly reviewing all of its contracts with outside employers.

“The alleged assaults are grossly inexcusable and fall far below the high standards set by the Manchester School District for the safety and wellbeing of its students,” Ruais said in a statement.

Applied ABC said it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to improper behavior toward children.

“Applied ABC immediately notified the proper authorities and terminated the employee as soon as we learned of the reported incidents,” the company said in a statement, according to Boston 25 News.

In a January memo to the school district, the company said it had relationships with more than 50 school districts nationwide. It said it had 81 employees in Manchester schools, and conducts rigorous screening to ensure they are credentialed and experienced.

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Police said O’Connell, of Allenstown, turned himself in Wednesday evening after a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was charged with felony second-degree assault and simple assault. It wasn’t immediately clear if O’Connell had an attorney and his first arraignment wasn’t scheduled until March 7. He has been released on bail.