UPDATE: Woman charged with abusing autistic adult is Johnston County high school teacher

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A woman accused by deputies of abusing an autistic adult in her care is also a high school teacher.

WITN has learned that Patricia Howard, 57, is a teacher with North Johnston High School and is currently suspended.

“The school system is aware of the charges against Ms. Patricia Howard. She is currently suspended with pay while the school system takes appropriate steps to review the matter. Ms. Howard began employment with Johnston County Public Schools on September 6, 2016, as a teacher at North Johnston High School,” said Richard Carr, public information officer for Johnston County schools.

Howard was charged by the Craven County Sheriff’s Office last Thursday with five felony counts of assault on a disabled adult and two counts of communicating threats.

Investigators said that on October 21st, deputies learned of a case of physical abuse involving a “severely autistic adult” at an alternative family living facility operated by Howard in her home.

Deputies say they found that there were several times when Howard physically abused the adult.

Howard was given a $175,000 secured bond.

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