A former Mt. Healthy Elementary School i-CARE worker has been charged with an additional felony after school video surveillance footage revealed she is accused of battering one of her stepdaughters at the school on the day of her arrest.
The camera footage shows Cooksey in an altercation with her 10-year-old stepdaughter in which she grabs the girl by the hair and yanks her head back in a forceful and violent manner, a probable cause affidavit filed in Bartholomew Circuit Court states.
Cooksey is then accused of throwing the girl forward causing her to stumble and lose her balance, the affidavit states. As the child turns to face Cooksey after she stumbles, Cooksey is accused of striking the 10-year-old in the face, the affidavit states.
The new charge is felony battery resulting in bodily injury to a person younger than age 14, according to court records.
Cooksey, who has been terminated from her job at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., was arrested Dec. 11 at Mt. Healthy and charged with public intoxication and neglect of a dependent while working with students at the school.
Bartholomew County Sheriff deputies were sent to the school at 5:49 p.m. on that day after a parent reported her son told her an i-CARE worker, later identified as Tiffany S. Cooksey, 35, 2990 W. County Road 300S, was verbally aggressive with the 12-year-old, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Bartholomew Circuit Court.
The parent said she smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Cooksey’s breath, the affidavit stated.
i-CARE is BCSC’s optional childcare program open to all BCSC families. The program offers before- and after-school care.
When deputies arrived, they saw an adult female exiting the school. During initial contact, Deputy Grant Carlson said the woman identified herself as Tiffany Cooksey using her name, date of birth and Social Security number, the affidavit stated. Cooksey was stumbling around the sidewalk as she exited the school, the affidavit stated.
Carlson said he noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from Cooksey’s breath, and her eyes were bloodshot red and watery. She became verbally aggressive after deputies confronted her on whether she had been drinking or not, the affidavit stated.
Cooksey told deputies she was not working at the school, however, when asked what she was doing at the school, Cooksey said, “I’m working here,” according to the affidavit.
After slamming her bag on the ground, an empty bottle of Dark Eyes vodka rolled out of the bag, in full view by a sheriff deputy, the affidavit stated. Carlson placed Cooksey in handcuffs but she refused to take a portable breath test, according to the affidavit.
As deputies were preparing to transport Cooksey to Columbus Regional Hospital, she repeatedly asked, “Are my girls OK?”
She told deputies there were zero children in the school, according to the affidavit. Carlson asked if she had children and Cooksey replied “aggressively that it was none of his business and she had zero children.”
Sheriff’s Captain Dave Steinkoenig noticed a back door open on a nearby white Buick in the school parking lot that had Cooksey’s two step-daughters, ages 7 and 10, inside. Both children were wearing winter coats, and it was approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside at the time, the affidavit states.
It is not clear how long the children had been left inside the vehicle unattended, deputies said.
For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.