Debra Copeland, 60, of Cadiz, a former therapist with the county's Developmental Disabilities Board program, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and placed on three years of probation this week by visiting Retired Stark County Judge Richard D. Reinbold.
Reinbold found Copeland guilty of three counts of child endangering, one felony and two misdemeanors, following a trial to the court.
The former School of Bright Promise physical therapist was arrested last January following an investigation into alleged verbal and physical abuse of two students at the school.
Photo by Mark Law
Debra Copeland studies her statement prior to sentencing Thursday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court by visiting Retired Stark County Judge Richard D. Reinbold.
Copeland was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 16 and terminated from her job on Feb. 5. She claimed personal problems flowed over into her professional life, resulting in the abuse.
Copeland told the judge she is truly sorry for was she had done and has accepted responsibility.
"I allowed all the built up frustration and stress to be directed to these children," she said.
Copeland said she realized she needed to be punished but asked the punishment be tempered with mercy.
Reinbold also questioned the true remorse from Copeland for her actions. He said Copeland was opening up only after her conviction. Reinbold told the parents and guardian of the victims that he expected them to disagree in not sending Copeland to prison, adding there are levels of abuse and her's did not rise to the level of imprisonment.
The judge also suspended a $7,500 fine but ordered her to pay the cost of her prosecution and the expenses of the victims' families coming to court.
Copeland also was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.
The judge also ordered her to continue counseling, with anger management to be part of the therapy.
He also ordered Copeland to meet one on one with the parents and guardian of the victims and apologize. He said Copeland she will answer any questions from the families.
"You will take their abuse. They need answers. You will sit there and listen until they are finished," Reinbold said.