Accused Grafton employee acquitted

Posted: July 25, 2013

The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — A former Grafton teacher was acquitted last week on charges involving an alleged assault on one of the school’s clients.

Dustin Walker, of Berryville, was indicted in October for malicious wounding, child endangerment and assault and battery.

He, along with Sandra Gladney of Charles Town, W.Va., and Olekan Eric Williams, unknown residence, were allegedly caught on surveillance footage assaulting a residential client June 18, 2012, at the Grafton facility just east of Berryville.

Walker was tried July 15 in Clarke County Circuit Court for a lesser charge of child endangerment and assault and battery.

According to his defense attorney, Caleb A. Kershner of Leesburg, it took less than an hour of deliberation for the jury to find Walker not guilty on both counts.

“[Walker] basically became a human shield for five minutes,” Kershner said. “It is really disturbing to me that the commonwealth charged [him] with this incident.”

Grafton Integrated Health Network (GIHN) serves high-risk children and adults with disabilities and significant emotional and/or behavioral challenges. The majority of clients are nonverbal and cannot live in the outside world. They often have trouble with manual dexterity and can sometimes be aggressive with a tendency to lash out.

GIHN, which has its corporate office on Bellview Avenue in Winchester, also maintains a facility in the city on Elm Street.

According to the GIHN website, the Berryville site has 88 residents who live in private rooms at the facility.

The search warrant in the case, filed in July in Winchester Circuit Court to seek any other video from Grafton, states that the alleged assault took place between noon and 1 p.m. near or in the “quiet area” and “seclusion room” at the school.

Kershner said the video showed the majority of the incident, which initially involved an “irate student and an upset teacher” — a co-defendant in the case.

Walker, Kershner said, could be seen on the video stepping between the teacher and student as they fought.

He added that the video was “disturbing,” but not on the part of his client.

“If it had not been for Dustin Walker, there could have been some severe injuries,” Kershner said.

Williams is set for a jury trial in the case at 9 a.m. Aug. 12 in Clarke County Circuit Court. Gladney is set for arraignment in the case at 9 a.m. Sept. 16.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com