Sofia Steele: Police say disabled girl was NOT abused at school when mask was tied with shoelace
After Sofia Steele's parents said that the school abused their disabled kid, police proved the claims were 'unfounded' using video recordings, witnesses
A month ago, Sofia Steele's parents from Florida had claimed their 7-year-old kid was abused by school authorities when they tied a shoelace to her head so that her face mask did not fall down. The story spread all over the internet like wildfire. However, after proper investigation, the claims of the parents have been described as 'unfounded' by the police.
Sofia's father, Jeffrey Steele said that her stepdaughter returned home on October 7 in a panic because of the face mask. He said that since she has an "enlarged tongue" and breathes through her mouth, it can be dangerous for her to wear a face mask. Sofia is also non-verbal and would not be able to express her discomfort if she is unable to breathe, which puts her life and health at risk.
As a result, Jeffrey started a campaign on the crowdfunding site, GiveSendGo. The family revealed that Sofia was abused for over six weeks without their knowledge. When they appeared on Fox News, Steele said, "I was just flabbergasted."
But on November 28, Florida Today reported that the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department has found a lot of problems in the statements given by Sofia's parents. According to the investigators, all the video evidence and eyewitness accounts prove that Sofia was not subjected to any physical harm or abuse after the school started tying a shoelace behind her head to prevent her mask from slipping from her face.
The investigators have written, "As witnessed by multiple teachers, school aides, bus drivers and school administration staff, at no time, while having the mask tied on, did Sofia ever exhibit any signs of distress, discomfort, difficulty breathing, or any other health concerns."
In fact, in one of the videos, she was seen wearing the face mask herself. The police report concluded, "On at least one occasion, Sofia was observed on video placing the mask on herself; on another, her teacher told police, she 'threw a temper tantrum' when she was not allowed to wear her mask."
Another statement given by the parents was proved false when Steele shared pictures of Sofia with police. He said that the pictures were taken the day they discovered the abuse. However, the metadata shows that the pictures were taken much later. Later, Steele clarified that his wife lost her phone and the pictures were staged later. Originally, they had been taken on October 7.
Some of Florida's politicians had tweeted about Sofia when the case gained attention. However, now that the claims have been declared 'unfounded' by the police, users are demanding an apology. As of November 28th, parents of Sofia have raised over $104,000 of $200,000 and are still getting donations through the campaign they have set up on GiveSendGo campaign. The family has declined to give any public comment on the investigation.