Autism Center Employee Charged with Assaulting 3-Year-Old Boy

Arianna Williams, a 25-year-old employee at Sunrise Autism Center in Minnesota, was charged with malicious punishment of a child after a surveillance video showed her assaulting a 3-year-old boy with autism. The center fired Williams and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

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Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Autism Center Employee Charged with Assaulting 3-Year-Old Boy

Autism Center Employee Charged with Assaulting 3-Year-Old Boy

Arianna Williams, a 25-year-old employee at the Sunrise Autism Center in Burnsville, Minnesota, has been charged with malicious punishment of a child after a disturbing incident captured on surveillance video. On May 2, 2024, Williams, who was a new hire at the center, was allowed to work with children unsupervised for the first time. The video footage shows Williams repeatedly assaulting a 3-year-old boy with autism.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the need for stricter oversight and more thorough background checks in facilities that care for vulnerable individuals, including those with special needs. This incident highlights the need for stricter oversight and more thorough background checks in facilities that care for vulnerable individuals, including those with special needs. It also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that caregivers are properly trained to handle the unique needs of children with autism.

In the video, Williams can be seen grabbing the child's hand, slamming him to the ground, and violently throwing him to the ground multiple times. The young victim, who was diagnosed with autism last year, had only been attending the center for a week before the assault took place. He was enrolled in the program for speech and occupational therapy.

Farhiya, the child's Somali-American mother, spoke to WCCO's Ubah Ali in Somali, expressing her shock and outrage at the incident. "You would think she doesn't have a heart," Farhiya said of Williams. She hopes that Williams will never be allowed to work with children again, especially those with disabilities. "We should never entrust him with children," Farhiya added.

The Sunrise Autism Center immediately fired Williams following the incident, and the police were called. In a text message sent to a co-worker after her termination, Williams stated, "I never intentionally hurt anyone, I was just having a really bad start to the week." However, the charges against her reflect the severity of her actions.

The center has prioritized the safety and well-being of its clients and is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation. Williams is due back in court on June 20 to face the charges brought against her.

The incident has left Farhiya feeling hurt and broken, unsure if she will ever allow her child to return to a care center. She now believes that her home is the safest place for her children. The assault serves as a sobering illustration of the importance of thorough background checks and close supervision when entrusting the care of vulnerable individuals to others.

The Burnsville community and advocates for individuals with autism are closely following the case while the investigation continues and the legal process unfolds. The incident has sparked discussions about the need for enhanced safety measures, improved training, and stricter oversight in facilities that provide care and support for children with special needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Arianna Williams, 25, charged with malicious punishment of a child for assaulting a 3-year-old boy with autism at Sunrise Autism Center in Minnesota.
  • Incident highlights need for stricter oversight and thorough background checks in facilities caring for vulnerable individuals.
  • Video shows Williams grabbing and throwing the child to the ground multiple times, causing harm.
  • Child's mother demands justice, saying Williams should never work with children again, especially those with disabilities.
  • Center fired Williams, cooperating with investigation, and prioritizing client safety and well-being.