Prosecutors yesterday dismissed charges against a Redwood City special education teacher accused of abusing two developmentally challenged 4-year-old boys in her care after school aides who made the allegations backed off their claims.
"Their testimony was essential to the provability of the case," said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. "That was the key component."
Alexia Alika Bogdis, 43, of Millbrae was charged with five counts of child cruelty and four counts of battery on school grounds. She had pleaded not guilty and was due to stand trial in December but instead prosecutors Thursday asked a judge to drop the case.
Wagstaffe said the former school employees who accused Bogdis softened their accusations during subsequent interviews and there is no independent evidence Bogdis injured any child. The aides, who have since been fired for not reporting their suspicions to school authorities, were given immunity by the prosecution so they could not be charged with violating their duty as mandated reporters. In recent interviews, the aides said what they told police was "not precisely what we meant," Wagstaffe said.
Bogdis, who has been free on a $15,000 bail bond, has been on administrative leave from Roosevelt Elementary School where she worked and has a court order barring her from campus, its employees and all students.
Bogdis, a five-year employee of the district, was accused of slapping a student, twisting a student's wrist and kicking the back of a chair, causing a desk to move forward and strike a student. She was also accused of depriving a child of food and kicking a child in the stomach.
A representative of the Redwood City Elementary School District could not be reached for comment on the case or Bogdis' possible reinstatement.
The attorney representing the family of one of the boys also could not be reached.
Bogdis was arrested in February 2012 and Wagstaffe conceded the time between then and the case's dismissal was "unfortunately long."
Wagstaffe said he is disappointed in the dismissal but the prosecution's hands are tied without the aides standing by their original stories.
Meanwhile, multiple lawsuits were filed stemming from the case, including one by the parent of one boy and the others from the five aides who lost their jobs and are seeking to recoup their lost income, legal fees and clean employee records. One worker's suit claims the proceedings leading up to their firing were unfair and that the aides had compiled a log of suspicious behavior by Bogdis which was given to the district in February 2012.
After Bogdis' arrest, the district increased the resources available to all staff regarding mandated child abuse reporting and mandated online training.
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