A judge ordered a Culpeper mom to serve 10 days in jail for slapping an on-duty Culpeper County Public School bus driver during the middle of her bus route on Amelia Drive off of Ira Hoffman in December.
Retired Judge Steven Helvin, filling in at Culpeper General District Court, sentenced Bethany Lynn Rudd to 30 days in jail before suspending 20 days.
Rudd, 33, was found guilty of assault and battery for hitting longtime bus driver Helen Gibson, who retired from driving buses on Dec. 31 after serving more than 34 years. During Wednesday’s hearing, Culpeper County prosecutor David Barredo decided to nolle prosse the trespassing charge against Rudd.
Following Helvin’s ruling, a Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office deputy immediately placed handcuffs on Rudd and prepared to transport her to the county jail.
But Helvin put a stop to that and allowed Rudd to file for an appeal in circuit court and bond, avoiding her jail sentence for the time being.
Rudd is due to appear in Culpeper Circuit Court on April 15 at 9:30 a.m. for this same assault and battery charge.
According to court records, this incident took place at a bus stop on Amelia Drive near Northridge Boulevard on Dec. 14 around 3:45 p.m.
Gibson was in the middle of her afternoon bus route transporting Pearl Sample and A.G. Richardson elementary school students to their neighborhoods off of Ira Hoffman.
In court on Wednesday, Gibson said she repeatedly told students to lower their voices and sit down while the bus was moving that day.
But Rudd testified in court that her 7-year-old son – who also testified briefly in court on Wednesday – told her that Gibson said if he didn’t sit down, “She was going to kill him.”
Gibson denied the allegation.
An enraged Rudd approached the bus and tried to board it just as Gibson closed the double doors, trapping Rudd’s left arm.
Defense attorney Amy Harper said Gibson closed the door on her client’s arm and proceeded to put the bus in gear to leave.
“Both parties put these kids in danger for their behavior that day,” Harper said during her closing statements. “But there’s no excuse for the bus driver driving off with a human being hanging out the door.”
A photo of Rudd’s bruised left arm was also shown in court on Wednesday.
Gibson told Rudd to take her complaint up with school officials on the next business day because she had children still on the bus she needed to transport to their homes.
But Rudd was determined to settle the matter that instant.
“I don’t know if I kicked the door in or pushed it,” Rudd testified Wednesday, admitting to slapping Gibson once she boarded the bus.
In his closing statements, Barredo asked Rudd if she even thought of walking away from the situation and handling the matter at a later date.
Barredo continued stating, “When Gibson closed the school bus doors she was protecting those kids on the bus from this person. [Rudd] was tampering with the operation of a school bus and making it an unsafe situation when she opened the doors and rushed the bus driver.”
Before ruling, Helvin shared his criticism of Rudd’s actions.
“I’ve been a judge a long time and I’ve seen plenty of cases. I don’t enjoy hearing cases like this. For your behavior, you deserve to go to jail,” Helvin scolded.