St. George psychiatric center employee pleads not guilty to child abuse

Southern Utah
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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — An youth psychiatric center employee was in court last week, accused of punching a teen in the face during an altercation at school.

According to court documents, 38-year-old Gino Sanchez pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of child abuse involving physical injury on Tuesday in 5th District Court in St. George.

Sanchez allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old girl after a fight broke out inside the Red Rock Canyon School in St. George back in April.

According to court documents, the girl told police Sanchez pulled her hair and punched her in the face. The incident happened in front of several students and staff members.

One of the staff members said she saw Sanchez yelling at the students from the courtyard to get back in their unit and the girl was yelling back at him. She said she witnessed Sanchez go up the stairs, pull the girls hair and punch her in the face.

Another staff member gave a similar account of witnessing Sanchez yelling at the girls, coming up the stairs, grabbing the girl by the hair and punching her in the face.

Another staff member reported she saw the girl punching other staff members and that once she was pulled off of that staff member, Sanchez hit her in the forehead.

Sanchez was interviewed by officers and told them the girl was punching and attacking other staff members and when he tried to verbally de-escalate the situation, she attacked him.

Sanchez said he pushed her back and away from him with an open hand and denied punching her in the face.

Several students and staff members were injured in the incident.

Detectives reviewed video surveillance of the encounter and can see the girl is yelling from a balcony when Sanchez goes up the stairs and confronts her.

“While the details are not clear, you can see Sanchez’s arm move towards ** and **’s head move back,” said the documents.

Sanchez is due back in court July 30.

Child Abuse: If you suspect child abuse or neglect contact the DCFS 24/7 hotline: 855-323-3237. For more information, visit dcfs.utah.gov.

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