Volusia teacher accused of stepping on girl's head for eating wife's food

Suspect charged with child abuse


VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A Deltona teacher is facing a child abuse charge for stepping on a teenage girl's head and slapping her across the face, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said the investigation began on Monday when the 17-year-old victim told one of her teachers that she wanted to move out of her home because Joseph Sweeney, an ESE teacher at Spirit Elementary School, was mentally and physically abusive toward her.

The victim said that on Sunday, Sweeney, 44, got angry at her because she was eating food that he had set aside for his wife, so he yelled at her, then followed her into the master bedroom, according to the report. Sweeney, who is 6 feet tall and 280 pounds, used his chest to pin the victim against a wall and yelled at her, deputies said.

She raised her hands up to her face because she was afraid that Sweeney would hit her, and at that point Sweeney grabbed her, threw her to the ground and stepped on the left side of her head, pinning her to the ground and holding her there for approximately 30 seconds before he released her and told her not to tell anyone was happened, according to the affidavit.

While speaking with deputies on Tuesday, the girl also said that Sweeney had slapped her in the face earlier that morning because he was upset that they were running late, deputies said. The girl had a cut on her lip from that slap as well as bruising behind her ear where Sweeney held her head down, according to the report.

Deputies said Sweeney, who is listed as an ESE teacher at Spirit Elementary School in Deltona, denied the allegations against him.

He was arrested on charges of child abuse and battery.