Debra Copeland School of Bright Promise

Debra Copeland, a physical therapist at the School of Bright Promise in Jefferson County, Ohio was put on paid administrative leave and is facing three charges of child endangerment for abuse that was secretly recorded by an intern.  The intern who worked at the School of Bright Promise secretly recorded the  sessions with Copeland and two special needs children.  The woman who is being identified as BJ told News 9:

“Her demeanor, the way she would speak about the children, sometimes I would hear her talk down to kids. It seemed odd to me.”

BJ recorded one video (posted below) that shows a child during a 30-minute physical therapy session where she can be seen sitting.   Copeland then comes over and shoves the little girl back to the ground and says, “Get down now. I said down. No.”
Copeland is also seen picking the little girl up and making her stand with her legs in locked braces stating, ” Stand up you little bitch, stand up.”   When I saw this video, I cried.  This woman is working with our most vulnerable members of society and what she did and said to this child is beyond cruel and reprehensible.

This comment was left on WTOV9.com’s site regarding Debra Copeland.

http://www.wtov9.com/news/news/students-family-student-releases-video-alleged-abu/nWMwt/#/comment/p1/c527715/

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

40 Comments

  1. Leigh LaFon (@DenverElle)

    I am just seething with anger because of this woman’s cruelty to children. In addition to physical cruelty, she set those kids up for lifelong problems with trust and confidence.

    Reply
  2. bpink

    This is heartbreaking . How can someone like this even get a job and keep it this long? I continue to be amazed at the things that happen around children , not just in Ohio either. I’m going to go cry now.

    Reply
  3. jdinohio

    Someone please look into the physical therapists school record. Wouldn’t be surprised to find a Big Red background. These are the type of demented persons turned out by immoral programs.

    Reply
  4. maddgramma

    I hope the Intern named BJ who taped this realizes she has protected so many more children in this school from harm. I cried when I saw what this sweet child had to go through. Thank You BJ! You are a HERO!

    Reply
  5. Alchemost

    maddgramma February 16, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I hope the Intern named BJ who taped this realizes she has protected so many more children in this school from harm. I cried when I saw what this sweet child had to go through. Thank You BJ! You are a HERO!

    I fully agree, she did the right thing. However, as Oscar Wilde observed, ” No good deed goes unpunished.” I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but I suspect that BJ’s reward for doing the right thing will be that she will essentially be blackballed in her chosen profession. To be a whistleblower, regardless of the rightness of one’s cause, all too frequently ends up with the whistleblower being ostracized, even to the point of being unemployable.

    This is a large part of why people frequently do not come forward, because they will be punished for so doing. Several of the janitorial staff at Penn State U actually witnessed some of the abuse taking place. One of these men was a Korea vet; he testified to the effect that what hd saw at Penn State was worse than what he saw in Korea in a war zone. Why did they not come forward? Because they said they would not have been believed, and they would have lost their jobs. The culture, right now, in America is the most antagonistic it has ever been for whistleblowers.

    Just look at the case of Christopher Domer — all his trouble began when he blew the whistle on wrongdoing that he observed. (I am most certainly NOT condoning his actions, but it is entirely without a doubt that his problems began when he blew the whistle on illegal behavior by his colleagues.)

    Reply
  6. angelinfl

    If the sessions are videotaped why aren’t more being looked at because I can bet you this isn’t the first time this therapist has stepped over the line?

    Reply
    1. prinnie (Post author)

      No, the sessions are not videotaped. An intern secretly placed her iPhone in the room to record the abuse she suspected.

      Reply
  7. Alchemist

    @prinnie February 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    No, the sessions are not videotaped. An intern secretly placed her iPhone in the room to record the abuse she suspected.

    Videotaping without authorization will likely be the excuse they’ll use to hang her out to dry.

    Reply
    1. maddgramma

      You are probably right. It is sad that BJ probably will be hung out to dry for doing the right thing as far as I am concerned. I too, would have placed my iPhone in the room if I suspected the therapist of any wrong doings. The poor little girl didn’t deserve to be treated the way she was. This entire situation break my heart.

      Reply
  8. scorpy01

    Isn’t there still a whistle blower protection law? My relative used it to win a multimillion dollar lawsuit about a decade ago. All it takes is one good lawyer who won’t back down.

    Also, when this story first broke in January, I remember hearing an educator comment about what a wonderful woman this is and how sad that she just “snapped” after having a bad day. Did her co-workers really not know the truth about this woman?

    Reply
  9. AuntBee

    It’s my belief whistleblowers do indeed usually get screwed by the “system.” Let us hope this wonderful intern is picked up by a really good facility (if there are any left) that will appreciate having an employee who is genuinely concerned about her patients/clients, and just not about their(facility) fake appearances to the public who never really know what happens “behind cosed doors.”

    What this intern witnessed is not unlike what happens in healthcare facilities everywhere. You name it, nursing facilities,hospitals, clinics…. everywhere. If the TRUTH got out about the real garbage going on everywhere, well never mind, there are few brave enough to tell the truth, for fear of losing their jobs, so rarely is it revealed.
    God bless this BJ and may she be able to pursue her chosen profession. If only there were more BJs the healthcare system would be 10000X better than it is currenty. May more BJs be rewarded for doing the right thing instead of having to work in fear of reporting that which is unethical, illegal, immoral etc. or living with guilt for not having spoken up when you knew things “weren’t right.”

    Reply
  10. Faith

    What I don’t understand is why did it take an intern to “notice” something wasn’t right. Obviously she hasn’t been there very long and felt something was wron.. Why haven’t any other staff members, or the administration noticed these actions? Or did they just look the other way. You don’t get that way overnight. So sad for those children. My heart goes out to them!

    Reply
  11. whoever

    Our guess is, because they didn’t want to jeopardize their jobs. That’s what it comes down to everywhere stuff like this happens. Whisteblowers rarely rewarded, contrary to what good people like to believe. Open your mouth about wrongdoing at just about any place of employment and you will pay. sad but true

    Reply
  12. Alchemist

    Faith February 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    What I don’t understand is why did it take an intern to “notice” something wasn’t right. Obviously she hasn’t been there very long and felt something was wron.. Why haven’t any other staff members, or the administration noticed these actions? Or did they just look the other way. You don’t get that way overnight. So sad for those children. My heart goes out to them!

    Faith, it is a basic principle that, for some people, they behave differently if they know they are being observed; if they know they are being observed, they will be the very model of propriety. It is only when they think they are not being watched, that they truly revert to form.

    Jeremy Bentham, in 18th Century England, proposed a model of prison he dubbed “The Panopticon” — this design used a series of mirrors to allow guards to view all the prisoners at any time. Any prisoner would never know whether they were being observed or not. The idea behind this is that prisoners would behave themselves because they would never know whether or not they were being observed at any particular time.

    While the facts will likely come out at trial, it is only reasonable to assume that the intern placed a camera where it would not be observed, and left the room for some time. Thinking she was not under observation, the therapist reverted to form.

    This would explain why no one would ever observe any wayward behaviour — in the presence of others, the therapist would be the very model of decorum and propriety.

    Reply
    1. prinnie (Post author)

      Who her family is might also have something to do with why no one ever told on her. JMO and what’s being whispered about in my ear. 😉

      Reply
  13. Alchemist

    prinnie February 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Who her family is might also have something to do with why no one ever told on her. JMO and what’s being whispered about in my ear. 😉

    Is there no end to the corruption in Jefferson County?

    Reply
  14. whoever

    no,corruption without end, amen

    Reply
  15. Ned

    Whistleblowers in health care systems, unless they are corporate-owned, usually do not receive the retribution they might otherwise receive in other kinds of service fields. Client abuse is often the primary basis for immediate termination, and health care workers are very strict, in most cases, about not allowing client abuse. I hope this practitioner receives a judicious termination. She probably needs some counseling, assuming she has any money left after the civil suit.

    Reply
  16. mayberrrylost

    Most such places where abuse can and does happen are corporate-owned or private non- profits. Cover-ups are common, abusive,negligant employees terminated only to go to other such places. where they can continue with their unnacceptable behaviors. Sorry, but it’s true, have seen it in all of the above, including state run facilities. We, your parents, your children, are not necessarily safe, in so-called treatment facilities.. Allways a few bad eggs, who indeed get away with, sometimes MURDER. (Ohio State Univ. Hosp. 1983 Pts killed by sociopath nuerosurgeon) Went on to kill more, finallly caught in S africa. That is extreme example but I assure you, there are people working in health care facilities you wouldn’t trust w/ your cat. Be careful out there.

    Reply
  17. ann

    Whistleblowers usually do not receive retribution?? Privates, and most certainly gov’t agencies can and will destroy whistleblowers. Do you not read any news? We get destroyed . No bad press will be tolerated by the powers that be. It is the whistleblowers who are often villified in the end. A miserable state of affairs. No your health treatment facilities can well be the most dangerous places you enter. Be vigililant if you must entrust a loved one to their care. Be observant, ask questions, and talk to other patients, they know what is really happening. Employees remain fearful for their jobs. Word of mouth, talk to friends who have used the facility clinics, or health care friends, if you have any. The Administrators will tell you anything to get your insurance or gov’t health care dollars. Sorry but the health care system a total mess and getting worse everyday. Negligence, malpractice commonplace. We are all in a real mess when we become ill or it is our family. Don’t be afraid to be assertive with Doctors, clinicians.. You have a right to receive decent treatent and certainly not abuse.
    Don’t believe for a minute that someone at this school did not notice the PT was out of line earlier. Looks ike they just pu up with her because good PTs are hard to come by in this area. Shameful

    Reply
  18. mortgagestar1

    My ex wife teaches at the School of Bright Promise for well over twenty years. When she was first hired, the then Superintendent made it clear NOT to report any evidence of abuse from the child’s home or file a complaint with the school due to lawsuits and public scrutiny.

    It was / is uncommon to see these special children with welts and even cigarette burns. The former Super and his former secretary were the only two who received pay increases for several straight years. His secretary is also his wife. This is typical Steubenville but I am certain it is also wide spread politics nationally.

    Reply
    1. prinnie (Post author)

      So they were being told to violate the law because of the potential of lawsuits? UNREAL! Educators are the second line of defense to keep children safe and are required by law to report. Is that school a county entity?

      Reply
  19. helen

    It is horrible what this woman did! Makes you wonder how long she has been doing this! I hope she goes to prison for a very long time!

    Reply
  20. mortgagestar1

    That was like twenty years ago. The teacher’s unions will also back up the teacher regardless. I know of other people in the Social Service industry and explain similar managerial manuevering. Look at how many times a kid dies from abuse and teh social workers were there just prior. Lawyers love suing any governmnet entity and the workers fear of reprisals. Whistelblowers from private companies to fderal government are made examples of.

    Reply
  21. margie

    Fear of lawsuits is reason for the coverups in hospitals, nursing facilites, mental health centers etc. Will get rid of suspected or reported offending staff, but other agencies will not be alerted. No alarms will be sounded for fear of reprisal. No licenses revoked, nothing, they will just move on to other facilities where they are free to again continue abusive, negligant practices. We who have worked in health care facilities all know but have no where to turn. Intenal ethics boards turn on you the whistleblower. AG office, worthless, no help. Poopoo everything. Be Afraid

    Reply
  22. Just Facts

    There is no union at this school. The past Super never instructed anyone to look the other way on abuse, nor did the present Super. Also if you think only the super and his wife received raises why don’t you look it up at the courthouse? It is public record, just ask for it.

    Reply
  23. mortgagestar1

    Just Facts, You are on jjhuddle. Aren’t you ! A Big Redd defender and victim attacker!

    Reply
    1. prinnie (Post author)

      They claim to hate me but they just can’t stay away. Sad little people.

      Reply
  24. Just Facts

    I am neither on jj huddle or a Big Red Defender. I just am giving facts, not defending anyone. I did not comment on any abuse situations, only stated correct facts that were incorrectly reported by Mortgagestar1.

    Reply
  25. Just Facts

    Oh and I forgot I don’t hate you Prinnie. I admire you for what you have done to shed light on the Steubenville issues. Thanks for your hard work and dedication. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. prinnie (Post author)

      Thank you.

      Reply
  26. marty

    just facts shows up everywrere offering nothing what one would call facts and nothing to back the so called just facts part. She cannot stay away and has a thing about “getting the last word” in. Just the facts is a patsy for the Officialsl elite sector of Steubenville and tries to ”’clean up” after anyone who says anything negative about the community. just facts has no facts, just likes to keep stirring the apologist pot.

    Reply
  27. BooBoo

    Looks like there are other kids harmed by this woman…

    “While the parents of the second child have not yet released their video, B.J. vividly remembered the moments that left her in tears.

    “At one point she pinches below the butt and looks out the window and pulls the pants down a little and checks to see if she leaves a mark. She smacks her on the rear end. Pinches her on the top of her hand until the point that she pulls the skin up and twists it. The little girl is just crying and crying,” said B.J.

    Aside from physical contact, the video reveals a great deal of verbal abuse.

    “When I was at home I didn’t know the full extent. I couldn’t watch it. I watched it for the first time at the police department with the family,” said B.J.

    She said before Steubenville police even finished viewing the recordings, they had pulled the therapist out of the school.

    When asked if it was worth the risk of taking the video, B.J. responded saying, “Yes. I had questions. I didn’t know what to do with it (video) myself, but after it was all over I knew I did the right thing.””

    – See more at: http://www.wtov9.com/news/news/former-intern-talks-about-secret-recordings-therap/nWPgy/#sthash.xEG7Qj2R.dpuf

    Reply
  28. mortgagestar1

    Sandy, I think Anonymous should hack ” justthefacts”. Interesting how this person trolls and the name is erriely like the Steubenville Police / Political Machine’s net handle ” Steubenville Facts “. This person IS a member of jjhuddle because this individual attempted to contact me on jjhuddle.

    Like to see what’s on HIS/Hers hard drive! Waiting for someone to get that IP address!

    Reply
  29. JANET

    GOD BLESS THE YOUNG WOMAN THAT REPORTED THE ABUSE-MY GRANDSON GOES TO ANOTHER SCHOOL IN AREA-HE HAS ALSO BEEN ABUSED BUT NO ONE WANTS TO STOP IT-HE CAME HOME FROM PRE-SCHOOL WITH 13 BRUISES ON LEGS AND ARM WITH A SMASHED TOE-3 HOURS IN SCHOOL-I TOOK PHOTOS AND NOW THINK I SHOULD TAKE ACTIONS-SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND TEACHERS COVER FOR EACH OTHER-HE COULD NOT SPEAK WELL AND THE CHILDREN ARE TARGETS FOR THE SICK TEACHERS AND ADULTS THAT TURN A BLIND EYE TO THIS ABUSE-

    Reply
    1. prinnie (Post author)

      I would MOST definitely report it.

      Reply
  30. mortgagestar1

    Sandy, Years ago at Bright Promise, a particular aide was venting anger to me of how several teachers would leave a child in a gerney and leave to watch morning talk shows on TV while the kid was helpless and often left unattended for long periods.

    Her husband turned pro in a sport and they left as his new career then involved traveling both domestic & abroad. The defender on here for Big Red and the School of Bright Promise is a mole and I am sure I will be harrassed more as I was this past summer & fall.

    Reply
  31. Alchemist

    Physical therapist among those indicted by grand jury
    April 4, 2013
    By MARK LAW – Staff writer (mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.),
    The Herald-Star

    STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County grand jury Wednesday returned indictments against a physical therapist working with developmentally disabled children, a couple accused in a bank robbery and two men allegedly involved in a Toronto crystal methamphetamine lab.

    Debra A. Copeland, 59, of 102 High St., Cadiz, was indicted on two counts each of felony and misdemeanor child endangering after an investigation into alleged abuse of students at the School of Bright Promise.

    Police were notified on Jan. 15 of the alleged abuse and received a video. City Police reported Copeland was a physical therapist and was allegedly physically and verbally abusing children at the school for children with developmental disabilities.

    Copeland had been on administrative leave from the school since Jan. 16 and she was terminated on Feb. 5, according to county Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Michael Mehalik.

    The county prosecutor’s office reported the alleged abuse was committed during physical therapy sessions on June 9 and June 15.

    Reply
  32. prinnie (Post author)

    Pretrial was yesterday.

    Reply
  33. tori brown

    This is my baby sister and I truly hope when she goes back to court here soon she gets everything she deserves

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *