A former bus driver for School Administrative District 15 will pay a $1,000 fine for slapping an autistic student.

Raymond Files, 59, entered a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge, meaning he did not admit guilt but still was convicted. Judge Christine Foster did not sentence him to jail time, despite the request of the victim’s mother, but increased the typical $300 fine.

Melissa Seavey speaks with the media after Raymond Files appeared in Biddeford District Court on Wednesday. Seavey, whose son was slapped by Raymond Files, said, “I can’t see how somebody can hit a disabled, defenseless child who can’t speak.” Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“I realize you have every right to ask for that in your position, but I have every obligation to say, as a judge, I don’t believe that’s appropriate,” Foster said to the mother during the Wednesday hearing. “I’m not going to impose jail time. I am going to impose an enhanced or increased monetary fine because I think that does accomplish some purpose. It acknowledges that something was done that was wrong and that this is out of the ordinary because of the nature of the victim, the age of the victim, the vulnerability of the victim.”

Files has not worked for the school district since Aug. 16, two days after the incident. SAD 15 includes Gray and New Gloucester. He did not speak at the hearing, but his lawyer told the judge Files regrets his actions and has not been able to find work.

“He has lost his job,” defense attorney Roger Champagne said. “He has lost family and friends. He’s been shunned.”

Files did not speak to reporters after the hearing. Champagne said later that the fine was appropriate, considering the victim’s vulnerability.

“His punishment has been significant,” he said.

The assault happened on the bus at the Margaret Murphy Centers for Children, a special-needs school in Saco. Melissa Seavey, 46, said her son is nonverbal and could not tell her what happened.

But an aide on the bus reported the incident to police, she said, and a security camera captured the encounter. The York County District Attorney’s Office previously denied a request for records in the case, including a video, saying they are confidential investigative materials. The office did not respond to another request for those records Wednesday.

Assistant District Attorney Shiela Nevells described the assault briefly during the hearing. She said the teenager had unstrapped his seatbelt on the bus, and Files was trying to buckle the seatbelt again. The student became upset and was flailing his arms.

“Mr. Files slaps the victim in the face,” Nevells said.

Seavey requested a sentence of three months in jail, but the prosecutor said she knew any incarceration would be a departure from sentences for similar crimes. She asked the court for the higher-than-usual fine instead. Seavey delivered a brief statement to the court, describing how her son has trouble trusting other people now.

“I can’t see how somebody can hit a disabled, defenseless child who can’t speak,” she said.

Seavey cried when the judge told her she did not believe jail time was an appropriate sentence for Files. The teenager still lives in a group home in Gray, but he no longer attends school. Seavey said after the hearing that she intends to file a lawsuit against the school district.

“I wanted him to be set as an example,” Seavey said outside the courthouse. “I was hoping he would get more than that to show parents that our kids are still important.”

A background check through the State Bureau of Identification shows that Files had been charged with a crime once before in Maine. In 1982, he was convicted of misdemeanor theft and fined $75. His driving record shows that he has held a commercial vehicle license in Maine since 1997.

Megan Gray can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemegan

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