Jefferson County

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Former physical therapist who abused children sentenced

Updated: Thursday, January 9 2014, 05:12 PM EST

By: NEWS9 and Glenn Bolich

A former physical therapist who verbally and physically abused special needs children was sentenced on Thursday.

Debra Copeland was sentenced to three years of community control sanctions, which includes 250 hours of community service. She must also go to therapy and counseling classes, including anger management sessions. In addition, Copeland no longer has her physical therapy license.

In November, Copeland was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts and one felony count of child endangerment. The charges stem from actions she took while employed at the School of Bright Promise, in Jefferson County.

During victim impact statements in court, two family members spoke.

Judge Richard Reinbold said to Copeland, "You will apologize to them, and you will let them question you. You will sit there while they exchange words with you. You will take their abuse and you will listen to them, because they have a right to confront you for what you have done."

One of the victim's family members addressed Copeland and said, "You took our trust and threw it back in our faces."

Reinbold made it clear that if Copeland makes one mistake during her three-year probation, she would face jail time. The judge said Copeland will serve 18 months in jail and pay $7,500 if she doesn't follow guidelines to the judge's specifications.

"And be advised I can't cut it down, so each time when you wonder if you have to do what I tell you to do, you think of 18 months in Marysville. Each time you get too tired to do your community service, you think of 18 months in Marysville," Reinbold said.

Former physical therapist who abused children sentenced

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