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Meadowlark Academy employee charged with felony Child Abuse

During an examination, it was said that the 11-year-old juvenile reported being abused by staff at Meadowlark Academy.

Preston Jack Thurin (Courtesy of the Laramie County Sheriff's Office)

An employee of Meadowlark Academy in Laramie County is facing recommended charges of felony Child Abuse, after police say they observed video of the employee restraining an 11-year-old victim for eight minutes, in a hold that police describe as “awkward and painful.”

Preston Thurin, age 23, had a single charge of felony Child Abuse filed against him on September 10, 2020.

“We continue to cooperate fully, during this ongoing investigation with local law enforcement,” a spokesperson for Meadowlark Academy said on Wednesday afternoon, when contacted by Oil City. The academy did not release any further statement.

Paperwork filed in Laramie County Circuit Court says that the investigation into the incident began on March 12, 2020. At that time, law enforcement was asked to investigate a child abuse case.

The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office were contacted by a forensic nurse at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, who reported that a juvenile was in the emergency room with minor bruising on their shoulder, upper back, and neck area; as well as showing abrasions on their lower leg.

The juvenile had been brought in for an examination, and was described as an 11-year-old  resident of the Meadowlark Academy.

Meadowlark Academy describes themselves on their website as a “Residential Treatment Center” on the East 3300 I-80 Service Road, in Laramie County.

“The bruising and abrasions were severe enough the medical team at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center called in [the nurse] to do a forensic examination,” an affidavit from the LCSO said.

During the examination, it was said that the juvenile reported being abused by staff at Meadowlark Academy.

Investigators say they obtained survelliance footage from the academy for the evening of March 11, 2020.

Deputies say that after, approximately 5:00 pm on the night in question, the footage shows a staff member of Meadowlark, identified as Thurin, standing up from a desk and approaching the victim. It’s then alleged that Thurin put his arms under the juvenile’s arms in a full-nelson type hold.

“[the victim] does not appear to be fighting or actively resisting,” deputies write. “Thurin then leans backward pulling [the victim’s] arms up and back in an awkward position almost lifting [the victim] off the ground.”

Deputies go on to say that the juvenile was held in that position for approximately eight minutes. During the eight minutes deputies say that the juvenile struggled.

“It appears [the victim] is trying to get away from Mr. Thurin because of the pain and is not actively resisting or attacking Mr. Thurin in any way,” the LCSO affidavit says.

Thurin was ultimately arrested and transported to the Laramie County Jail.

All of those cited or arrested are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. Charges are subject to change following official filings from the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office.