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Brownsville Area teacher headed for court on assault charge

| Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A teacher in the Brownsville Area School District was held for court Monday on charges of simple assault and harassment of a fifth-grade male student earlier this year.

Deanne Wienk, 52, of California, did not testify during the preliminary hearing before Redstone District Judge Mike Defino Jr., but the student did.

The boy said he was among a group of students lining up for lunch on May 9 in Cardale Elementary School.

“A lot of the kids weren't listening,” he said.

When one of his friends did not quiet down, the boy said he told him to get in line.

“That was when she (Wienk) proceeded to turn around, put her hands around my neck and throw me against the wall,” the boy said, pointing out Wienk in the courtroom.

“Were you able to breathe?” asked Anthony Iannamorelli Jr., Fayette County assistant district attorney.

“Barely,” the boy said.

He stated that he had a neck sprain and a cerebral concussion, and wore a neck brace for three weeks.

Defense attorney John W. Bitonti of Washington asked the boy if Wienk could have been “playing or joking around.”

“No, not at all,” the boy said.

He testified that two students grabbed Wienk by her shoulders and pulled her off him.

The boy said he returned to homeroom and told some other students, “That actually really hurt.”

A teacher overheard him and sent him to the principal's office to report the incident, the boy said.

During a later meeting with the school principal, the boy said he heard Wienk first deny she touched him, then claim she was joking.

“She said, ‘I won't go so far as saying I choked him, but I kind of did this,'” he said, raising his hands and making a shaking motion.

Wienk, who was assigned to the school by Intermediate Unit 1, also is the subject of a civil lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of the boy's family.

The lawsuit filed Dec. 6 by Pittsburgh attorney Joel Sansone names Wienk, school Principal Frank Berdar, Superintendent Philip Savini Jr., the district and Intermediate Unit 1 as defendants.

District solicitor Jim Davis declined comment Monday.

The boy's parents are identified as Shawn H. and Christine C.

The suit states that a parent picking the boy up from school filed a complaint with Berdar.

As a result of the incident, the suit states, the boy “sustained physical, emotional and psychological injuries.”

“He continues to suffer from depression, anxiety and nightmares as a result of the incident and requires homeschooling,” the suit states.

It adds that school officials refused to agree to a “safety plan” allowing the boy to leave class and contact his parents if he felt anxious or threatened.

The suit demands a jury trial and seeks damages in excess of $75,000 on each of five counts.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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