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November 19, 2003

Teacher abuse claim

From: Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia - Nov 19, 2003

A TEACHER from the Victorian College for the Deaf is under police investigation over allegations she punished a disruptive student by sitting on him for 12 minutes.

The alleged victim, nine-year-old Ben Zygorodimos, told his father a teacher had sat on his stomach and hurt him because she was angry.

The incident allegedly happened in August.

Ben is deaf and has a brain tumour, which causes epilepsy, sometimes leading to disruptive behaviour in class.

Ben's father, Bill Zygorodimos, said he was alarmed by the report and immediately phoned the parents of other children from the same class.

"These children independently verified what Ben had told me without prompting, so I went straight to the police," Mr Zygorodimos said.

"The version they told me was that Ben had broken something in the class, and the teacher had reacted by yelling at him and then sitting on top of him while he lay on his back on the floor.

"There is just no way

nine-year-old children are going to collaborate to make up a story like that.

"What has happened is totally inappropriate under any circumstances."

Mr Zygorodimos said the teacher had denied the allegations and the college was claiming the teacher merely sat beside Ben on the floor.

The college yesterday said the Department of Education and Training would be responding on behalf of the teacher.

A spokesman from the department said they would not comment until the police investigation was complete.

© Herald and Weekly Times