Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DA: 'Behavioral specialist' body-slammed student at Reading school

Ismael Seals, 34 (left), and Teresa Bivens, 27.
Ismael Seals, 34 (left), and Teresa Bivens, 27. Berks County District Attorney's Office

A Philadelphia man employed as a behavioral specialist at a Reading alternative school is accused of body-slamming a 17-year-old during a classroom disturbance.

A teacher at the school is also facing charges for allegedly lying to cover up the attack.

Investigators said Ismael Seals, 34, was supervising a class at the Paramount Academy on City Line Street in Reading during the afternoon of April 24.

When the students became loud, Seals allegedly told them to be quiet and threatened that the next person who spoke would get “body-slammed” through the door, according to a news release from the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.

A short time later, the victim, who was attending the class, asked instructor Teresa Bivens, 27, for permission to sharpen his pencil.

Prosecutors said Bivens agreed but, when the victim stood up, Seals ordered him to sit down.

Seals allegedly grabbed the teen and slammed him against the classroom door multiple times, forcing him into the hallway.

There, investigators said, Seals pushed the victim into the wall while holding his shirt. He allegedly swung the teen headfirst into the wall before pinning him to the floor.

Seals stands about 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 280 pounds, while the victim is 5 feet 8 inches tall and 162 pounds, prosecutors noted in the news release.

Authorities said the victim suffered scratches and bruises to his upper torso during the assault, a portion of which was captured on surveillance camera.

Both Bivens and Seals filled out incident reports and submitted recorded statements to detectives in which they falsely claimed the victim was being disruptive, investigators allege.

Bivens, during a second interview with detectives May 2, allegedly admitted her first statement was false and confirmed the victim’s versions of events, prosecutors said.

Bivens allegedly said she had lied on the original report because she was “prompted by her ‘higher ups’ to clean up the incident,” according to the release.

Bivens, of Coatesville, surrendered Tuesday morning to Berks County detectives.

She is charged with unsworn falsification to authorities, conspiracy to commit unsworn falsification, tampering with evidence, tampering with public records or information, intimidation, retaliation or obstruction in child abuse cases and persons required to report suspected child abuse.

Seals is facing additional charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and endangering the welfare of children.

Prosecutors were anticipating his surrender later on Tuesday.


Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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