27-year-old autism therapist charged with physical abuse of child

WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- 27-year-old Stephen Jacobs of Wauwatosa faces one count of physical abuse of a child, sexual assault of a child, physical abuse of a child by a child care provider.

Officials spoke with the child's mother, who said her child suffers from severe autism and had been receiving treatment through a company called Autism Intervention Milwaukee for several months.

The child's mother told officials that she was advised by her child's doctor that he may be more mentally handicapped that previously diagnosed, and that his treatment needed to change. This, according to the criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint says the child received in-home treatment from four different therapists and neither she, nor her husband were allowed to be present for the therapy.

The complaint says the child is non-verbal, and unable to communicate what happens at therapy sessions. The child's mother and father became concerned that the child's treatment was not having the desired effect, so they placed a web camera in the treatment area to record his treatments on December 12th, 13th and 14th.

The complaint says that on December 14th, the child's mother observed therapist Stephen Jacobs physically assault her son.

The complaint says the child's mother ordered Jacobs out of her home -- and a copy of the video was given to investigators.

The complaint says Jacobs is seen in the video shaking the child so that his head snaps back and then quickly forward, headbutting the child, kicking the child in the head, hitting him in the head with a pillow, grabbing the child by the arm, pulling him across the room and then aggressively throwing the child onto the couch.

The complaint says the child was thrown with such force that the couch rocked backwards on impact.

The complaint says the video also shows Jacobs elbowing the child in the face, shoving him across a couch cushion, taking his blanket away, and smacking the child on the head.

Officials spoke with Jacobs, who told them he was studying criminology while working for two separate childhood autism treatment organizations. Jacobs told officials he received 60 hours of supervised training from senior therapists and over 100 hours of training specific to helping children with autism, according to the complaint.

When asked about and shown the video, Jacobs told officials he did not remember doing anything that would cause harm to the child, according to the complaint.

The complaint says Jacobs told officials he had a college final exam to study for, and was reading from his Kindle on that day.

The complaint says when asked about the compensation he received to care for the child, Jacobs said: "Not enough. I get $9.50."