FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)– He felt an elbow to the ribs. And that’s when he lost his cool.
Then the slap happened.
If it was a slap, he said, it was a slap.
But he didn’t remember if he ever really hit the kid.
That’s what a 75-year-old substitute teacher who is now facing felony charges told the Carroll Middle School principal last year after a down syndrome student was reportedly battered in a classroom.
Allen County Prosecutors formally charged 75-year-old Jeffrey J. McCracken with a count of battery against a child under 14 years of age and a count of battery against a disabled person last week.
It was 9 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2021, and McCracken was substituting at a special needs class at Carroll Middle School.
At that moment, the classroom floor was occupied by students participating in an activity led by a peer leader. When McCracken brought over a chair for the peer leader, another student climbed into the chair, according to Allen Superior Court documents.
The student, diagnosed with Down Syndrome, was picked up by McCracken in an effort to move the student from the chair meant for the peer leader. And the student elbowed McCracken below the ribs, court documents said.
McCracken acted in swift retaliation, by grabbing the victim by the face and striking him in the face, according to court documents.
Several people in the classroom witnessed the slap. In a meeting with Carrol Middle School Principal Brandon Basham, McCracken said in court documents:
“Not sure if I slapped him. I don’t believe I did, but if they call it a slap then it’s a slap. I just lost my cool today.”
McCracken is currently on monitored release after bonding out of Allen County Jail.