by: Tom Regan Updated:
ATLANTA - A Fulton County grand jury has indicted a former special needs teacher accused of abusing five students who were in her care.
The 11-count indictment accuses Melanie Pickens, 34, of cruelty to children and false imprisonment. Prosecutors said the alleged abuse took place between 2004-2007 at Hopewell Middle School in Milton.
According to the investigation, the victims who were mostly nonverbal students, were pushed or shoved into lockers and/or left in isolation for hours. Pickens resigned from her position in 2007.
The mother of one of the alleged victims told Channel 2's Tom Regan the criminal action was long overdue.
"I know if I had been accused of doing this, I would have been in jail a long time ago," said Lisa Williams.
Williams' son Alex is now 20 years old. He attended Hopewell during the 2006-2007 school year. His mother said during that time, she noticed drastic changes in his demeanor.
"He was losing skills, he was losing his personality. He ended up being diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)," Williams said. "He was being slammed into lockers, I guess daily. They were being called names. In any other situation, this treatment would be unacceptable. It's really hard for me to understand the fact that it happened in a school."
Regan tried to obtain a comment from the former teacher at her workplace, a pizza delivery store in Johns Creek. A manager said she was on vacation.
The grand jury has issued a warrant for her arrest.