GREENFIELD — An Eastern Hancock Schools bus driver fired earlier this school year amid allegations he battered a boy on his bus will complete community service in exchange for prosecutors excusing the criminal case against him.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Harold Eugene Cass, 74, Pendleton, admitted that police had reason to investigate him after a home health nurse, who worked with a boy with a developmental disability, called 911 to say she saw Cass shove the child off of a school bus, records state.
But that agreement does not require Cass to plead guilty to the felony battery charge against him; instead, Cass is ordered to complete 16 hours of community service. He’s also been barred from working with children ever again, officials said.
In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to move forward with Cass’ criminal case as long as he does not commit another crime in the next year, records show.
Indiana law allows attorneys to file agreements to withhold prosecution if the accused faces a misdemeanor or a low-level felony and agrees to complete some form of court-ordered community program.
Cass had faced a Level 6 felony count of battery on a person younger than 14.
A nurse who helps care for the victim, including helping him off the school bus each day, called police to report having seen the boy tumble out of the bus after classes one day in August, court documents state.
The nurse told police Cass shoved the boy after ordering him to move more quickly, court documents state. She told officers she saw the boy’s chest and head jerk forward before his feet moved, reports state.
Security video from aboard the bus confirmed the woman’s claims, investigators said: the recording shows Cass pushing a boy in the back, causing him to fall forward, court records state.
The child was not injured, officials said.
Prosecutors filed one Level 6 felony count of battery against Cass in September after a police investigation. Days later, the Eastern Hancock school board voted to fire Cass.
Cass was immediately remorseful for his actions and wrote a letter of apology to the victim and his family after the case the filed, said deputy prosecutor John Keiffner.
That guilt, coupled with the man’s age and lack of criminal history, prompted prosecutors to consider a more lenient punishment, Keiffner said. Additionally, the victim’s mother asked that the case be resolved without her son being dragged into court, he said.
Cass declined to comment on the case.
Cass’s attorney, Chris Smith of Greenfield, could not be reached for comment.