North Florida Teacher, Other School Officials Charged in Alleged Abuse of Students With Autism

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Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

What to Know

  • Sheriff Larry Ashley said the women abused three children between ages 8 and 10 from September to November.

A Florida special education teacher and two aides are charged with abusing children with autism by blowing whistles into one's ears and locking them in dark bathrooms.

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that teacher Margaret Wolthers surrendered Tuesday to Okaloosa County sheriff's investigators to face aggravated child abuse charges. Aides Diana LaCroix and Carolyn Madison had already surrendered.

Sheriff Larry Ashley said the women abused three children between ages 8 and 10 from September to November. He said the women would hold the arms of one child while blowing a whistle into the child's ears. He said all three children were locked separately into a bathroom with the lights off for up to 90 minutes.

The women said they were disciplining the children and felt the practices acceptable.

Meanwhile, a guidance counselor at another Okaloosa school, Sharen Burt, was also arrested for failing to report sexual abuse allegations made by a 5-year-old student, authorities said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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