Video at the center of a now-overturned conviction of a Linwood teacher has been released.
Kimberly Peschi was first convicted of simple assault in the 2017 incident at Belhaven Middle School.
But Superior Court Judge John Rauh overturned it last month.
BreakingAC received a copy of the video after a records request to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
The video, which was taken during lunch period at the school Feb. 9, 2017, blurs out most of the screen to protect the minor’s identities.
It shows Peschi walking toward the student, seen rocking back in his chair.
She then appears to pick up her right leg and use it to pull down on the back of the chair. She does not appear to use her arms at all.
She then stands over the student as he gets to his knees and then gets up. Peschi walks around to the other side of the table, and then appears to address the students there briefly.
She then walks away, shrugging toward another teacher as she continues out.
The boy’s mother, Michele Tourigian, was shocked as she watched the released video for the first time as she spoke with BreakingAC.
“I feel that Judge Rauh did a disservice to the children of Linwood and this video clearly shows the intentions of Ms. Peschi without a shadow of a doubt,” said Tourigian, who herself was a teacher.
“It is difficult, as a mother and a teacher of 25 years to watch, but I am glad that the public has a chance to see what took place and what my son has endured over the past 2½ years,” she said.
Peschi was convicted by Judge Timothy Maguire in May 2018, in a trial that lasted several days spread out over months. It was conducted in Northfield Municipal Court, even though it was tried by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
As a result, she lost her job and was forced to surrender her teaching license.
But, a year later, Rauh overturned the conviction, clearing the way for her license to be restored.
He said that the video was not clear enough to show intent.
Peschi had testified that she was trying to right the chair.
“I would never intentionally hurt a child, ” she said at trial in March 2018. “I play it over in my head every single day for a year and a month.This happened in six seconds. I just reacted. Sorry.”
HOW VIDEO WAS RELEASED
While the request was denied under the Open Public Records Act, it was made public under a “common law” request.
The response from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office explaining the reason for its release included that: “1) this video was n exhibit entered into evidence, so it has already been made part of the record during the course of the trial, 2) this matter has been a source of significant public interest and speculation, 3) the press generally has an interest in reporting on the conduct of public officials and members of the government.