Pre-sentence investigation ordered for physical therapist

STEUBENVILLE – Visiting Retired Stark County Judge Richard D. Reinbold will wait for a pre-sentence investigation report before he sentences Debra Copeland of Cadiz on one felony and two misdemeanor convictions for child endangering.

Several staff employees from the School of Bright Promise and Copeland’s family and friends sat silently as Reinbold cleared Copeland of one felony child endangering charge but found her guilty of a second felony and two misdemeanors.

The former School of Bright Promise physical therapist was arrested in January following an investigation into alleged verbal and physical abuse of two students at the school.

Copeland was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 16 and terminated from her job on Feb. 5.

She was indicted on the child endangering charges by the April term of the Jefferson County grand jury.

Reinbold repeatedly referred to a video of Copeland interacting with two female students at the school.

“This was not therapeutic conduct. This was a lack of professional conduct by Miss Copeland. These are not accepted teachings of physical therapy. The force with which Miss Copeland touched the children was of concern to me. The way she turned on the radio and talked to that young lady is purely retaliation and clearly anger,” Reinbold stated.

“The slapping of hands is not therapy … that’s discipline. You caused (the girl) harm. Showing no remorse is not the issue. The way you treated her is the issue,” added Reinbold.

The visiting judge listened to testimony for two days last week before adjourning the trial until Wednesday.

Reinbold said the pre-sentence investigation should take four to six weeks to complete.

“I will return after the investigation is done to issue my sentencing,” Reinbold stated.

Following the verdict Assistant County Prosecutor Frank Bruzzese said he was pleased with the court’s decision.

“This was justice today for two little defenseless girls. I thought the verdict was appropriate,” Bruzzese said.

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