Former Poudre School District Paraprofessional Pleads Guilty to Multiple Charges of Child Abuse and Assault

In a shocking case that has sent shockwaves through the community, former Poudre School District paraprofessional Tyler Zanella has pleaded guilty to a series of disturbing charges, including child abuse, assault, and harassment. The 37-year-old entered his guilty plea on January 29 in Larimer County District Court, admitting to seven counts of assault causing bodily injury to an at-risk person, two counts of harassment, and two counts of child abuse.

Zanella’s arrest on May 23, 2023, came after surveillance footage from a school bus revealed his repeated acts of violence against a disabled student. The footage showed Zanella striking the child on multiple occasions, leaving no doubt about the severity of the abuse. The arrest was followed by a lawsuit filed on behalf of six Poudre School District students and their guardians, alleging a pattern of abuse throughout the 2022-2023 school year.

According to online court records, the offenses Zanella pleaded guilty to occurred between March 30, 2023, and April 25, 2023. The lawsuit detailed disturbing incidents captured on video, including Zanella hitting a child in the head with his fist and cell phone, forcefully ramming the child’s head into school bus windows, and subjecting the child to mocking and derogatory remarks. Additional videos showed Zanella assaulting two other children in a similar manner.

The lawsuit further accused Poudre School District officials of failing to prevent Zanella from physically and sexually abusing disabled children on the school bus, despite receiving complaints from parents and being aware of his previous guilty plea for child abuse. The victims, aged between 6 and 11 years old, were all strapped into their bus seats when the abuse took place, according to the lawsuit.

Disturbingly, the lawsuit revealed that two parents had previously reported the abuse, but their concerns were not adequately addressed. In one instance, a teacher failed to report the abuse, while in another, a school principal neglected to review the video footage from the bus. These alleged failures by school staff raise serious questions about the district’s handling of the situation.

The lawsuit also shed light on the hiring process that allowed Zanella to work as a paraprofessional for disabled students. Despite the district’s knowledge of his previous guilty plea for child abuse in 2012 and his history of drunken driving arrests and convictions, including one shortly before he started working, Zanella was still hired in August 2022.

Zanella is scheduled to be sentenced on April 12. The seven assault charges he pleaded guilty to are class 6 felonies, carrying possible sentences of one to 18 months in prison and fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 each. The harassment and child abuse charges are misdemeanors, with potential sentences of up to 364 days in prison and/or fines of up to $1,000. If Zanella receives the maximum sentence for each assault charge and serves them consecutively, he could face more than a decade behind bars.

The community awaits the sentencing with a mix of relief that justice is being served and concern over the failures within the school district that allowed such abuse to occur. As this case continues to unfold, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safeguarding our most vulnerable members and holding accountable those entrusted with their care.

 

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. This is a disturbing and unfortunate incident that highlights the importance of thorough background checks and screening processes in educational institutions. It is crucial for schools and districts to prioritize the safety and well-being of their students by ensuring that all staff members, including paraprofessionals, undergo rigorous vetting procedures. This case serves as a reminder for schools to review and strengthen their hiring practices to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of creating a safe and secure environment for children,

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