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Pittsburgh teacher beaten in intersection accused by alleged attacker

Teacher beaten in street

PITTSBURGH -- A woman who claims a public school teacher choked her daughter while disciplining her has been charged with following the teacher after school, hitting her with a brick and then pulling her from her car and beating her.

Daishonta Williams and her boyfriend followed Janice Watkins' car as she left the Pittsburgh King PreK-8 school on Wednesday afternoon, police said. Earlier in the day, the teacher had called Williams to the school for a conference, claiming Williams' 10-year-old daughter bit the teacher when she removed a cellphone from her. The district has a no-phone policy for students.

Watkins' husband denied to CBS Pittsburgh station KDKA-TV that his wife ever choked the child.

Watkins told police she was stopped at an intersection when Williams got out of another vehicle and threw a brick, striking Watkins in the face, before beating her.

"She felt a presense of somebody grabbing the back of her hair and proceeding to kick and stomp her," Watkins' husband, who didn't want to be identified, told KDKA-TV, "and she didn't understand who it was, but at that point she buried her face in the girl's body and tried to defend herself as much as possible."

The teacher was treated for facial injuries and lost a tooth.

Williams was charged with stalking, reckless endangerment, making terroristic threats and aggravated assault. Her boyfriend wasn't charged.

Police said in their criminal complaint Williams acknowledged attacking the teacher.

"I ain't going to lie, I did it," Williams said, according to police, though investigators say she denied using a brick and claimed to have only punched the teacher.

Williams' attorney, Blaine Jones, told KDKA-TV on Thursday that he hadn't yet read the allegations against his client.

"When the appropriate time comes, we will take a look at it, the other lawyers in my firm and myself, and we will do what needs to be done to represent her in the best fashion possible," Jones told the station.

Watkins' husband, who is also a teacher in the district, told KDKA-TV that Watkins had to make a second visit to a hospital with severe headaches and signs of a concussion.

He told the station he was "sad and disappointed that people would go to such lengths against another human being over something so petty."

"I think she can teach again, but she definitely should look for another place to go teach," said the husband.

District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said violence against a Pittsburgh Public Schools staff member is unacceptable and anyone responsible "must be held accountable for such horrifying behavior."

"We are deeply troubled by the violent act against a teacher of the Pittsburgh Public Schools that occurred on the West End Bridge yesterday afternoon, and we are currently cooperating with the City of Pittsburgh Police Department's investigation," she said in a statement Thursday.

Pugh said she could not comment on the particulars of the case, including Williams' claim her daughter was mistreated, because the case remains the subject of a police investigation.

The president of Watkins' union said words aren't enough to express her "horror" regarding the "brutal attack" she suffered.

"This horrific attack is the most appalling act that I have had to address in my six years as your president," Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers president Nina Esposito-Visgitis said in an emailed statement. "I know acts of violence like this do not represent our kids or our parents, but it is beyond unacceptable."