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Woman who assaulted crossing guard on duty likely to only get probation in Philadelphia

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 8:32 p.m.

Alicia Carranco's 19-year tenure as a Philadelphia school-crossing guard came to a bloody end on Sept. 17, 2010.

That's the day a motorist, furious after Carranco scolded her for nearly hitting two students that Carranco was helping cross the street, beat her so severely that medics rushed her to the hospital with her eyes swollen shut.

Her convicted attacker, Shaquana Outlaw, was scheduled to be sentenced Friday. But because crossing guards aren't a protected class of public servants the way police and firefighters are, Outlaw will likely get probation for the beating.

That's not enough, says Carranco, 51, who still lives in fear because Outlaw lives in her neighborhood. Her fellow crossing guards agree and plan to pack the sentencing hearing.

“We want to show the judge that we are important, and people just can't come out and beat the crap out of us and get away with it,” said Joan Gallagher, president of the crossing-guards union.

Although it's been more than two years since the attack, Carranco still sobs when she talks about it and says she suffers persistent headaches.

On the day of the attack, the school day had just ended at Alexander K. McClure School and Carranco was ushering students across the street.

After Outlaw, 22, screeched to a halt in her Ford Taurus, mere feet from “my girls,” Carranco said, she leaped from her car, poked the hat off Carranco's head and “cussed me out like there was no tomorrow.”

With an audience of schoolchildren, Outlaw punched Carranco so hard and often that she couldn't see through the blood and swelling. As at least four witnesses called 911, a passerby intervened and pulled Outlaw off Carranco, and medics transported her to the hospital.

In Pennsylvania, attacking public employees —including cops, firefighters and teachers — while they are working automatically earns the attacker an aggravated-assault charge.

In 2011, a Pittsburgh lawmaker tried to add crossing guards and volunteer firefighters to the list. The bill passed unanimously in the House but stalled in the Senate. The sponsor, Rep. Dom Costa, D-Pittsburgh, plans to reintroduce it this year, a spokeswoman said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office originally charged Outlaw with aggravated assault, which could have gotten her a 10-year prison sentence.

But Common Pleas Judge Sean F. Kennedy found her not guilty of that charge, convicting her of simple assault and reckless endangerment. Although she faces up to four years in prison on those charges, she is likely to get probation because she has no felony convictions, according to court records and sentencing guidelines.

“The commonwealth's position continues to be that crossing guards are a protected class” who deserve added protection, said Emily Rodriguez, the assistant district attorney who argued the case. Carranco is “the kind of person you want out protecting your children. But if we're not protecting her, what's the point of any of this?”

Peter C. Bowers, Outlaw's attorney, didn't return calls for comment.

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