A primary school teacher who pushed a chair that hit a student broke down in tears Thursday after Magistrate Valdis Foldats recorded no conviction on a common assault charge.
An earlier charge of child cruelty was withdrawn, and a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm was dismissed.
Magistrate Foldats praised him as an “excellent teacher” and opted not to record a conviction because the teacher had no prior record.
“I have to work with the basis of the plea,” Magistrate Foldats said during the sentencing hearing. “Had this been a more deliberate act, there would be different issues.”
The teacher, whom the Cayman Compass is not naming since no conviction was recorded, accepted guilt for pushing a plastic chair with metal legs in exasperation toward a group of students. He acknowledged that his action had caused a student pain and mental anguish. But he had not thrown the chair attempting to discipline his student as previously reported, the court heard.
The court, in this case, drew a fine line between the admitted action and one of intentional discipline.
The magistrate said that the teacher had acted impulsively and recklessly but not with intent to injure. He added that the instructor deserved “enormous credit” for accepting the student’s version of the story and not dragging the court and the witness through the arduous process of a trial.
The teacher’s attorney, Nicholas Dixey, said the defendant was “deeply ashamed” by the incident. He said the teacher had mindlessly pushed the chair after stumbling into it and hurting his own knee.
Magistrate Foldats acknowledged the student’s injury but noted that there was no malicious intent, and he said that it was akin to hurting someone by accident after throwing a glass in a bar.
The magistrate weighed the teacher’s exemplary probation report alongside the victim’s impact statement, which indicated that the student had been injured and afraid to notify his parents about the incident. Mr. Foldats also noted that the student praised the defendant as a good teacher.
The defendant was the subject of several character references that described him as a “dedicated teacher who goes beyond the call of duty,” and Magistrate Foldats noted that he had “an unblemished background,” before this incident. This event, said one reference, was “out of character.”
“It’s been an embarrassment to you, I’m sure,” Mr. Foldats said to the defendant just before the teacher broke down crying. “And, despite that you did the right thing and said you were guilty.”