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Utah gym teacher cited for allegedly slamming student against wall

Anthony Robbie Chidester
Anthony Robbie Chidester
Utah County Sheriff's Office

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — A gym teacher at an Eagle Mountain charter school was cited Thursday for allegedly slamming a student against a wall and throwing him to the ground.

The teacher said it happened after daily bullying he's received from students.

The alleged incident happened about 9 a.m. at Rockwell Charter High School. A teacher had a "bad reaction" to a 14-year-old boy not doing what he was supposed to do, said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon. After some words were exchanged, the teacher grabbed the boy by the neck and shoulders and slammed him against a wall before throwing him to the floor, Cannon said.

The student suffered minor injuries but had visible scrapes and bruises on his shoulder and neck, he said. The incident was recorded on a school surveillance camera, Cannon said.

The teacher, Anthony Robbie Chidester, 40, was immediately escorted from the school and later fired. Cannon said deputies went to his home in Cedar Hills to interview him and determined his reaction to the student's behavior was "clearly inappropriate." Chidester was issued a citation for child abuse, a class A misdemeanor.

Rockwell Charter High School Executive Director Darren Beck called the incident "just ugly, hideous and extremely damning."

Chidester issued a statement Thursday evening apologizing for his actions and explaining what led up to it. He said he was "absolutely mortified" by what he'd done.

"I allowed an incident of disrespect, bullying, teasing and insubordination from a student to escalate. As an educator I have been bullied, I have been threaten(sic) with physical harm, told to 'F off' on a daily basis, teased that I am powerless, told that I am worthless, had balls and weights thrown at me," Chidester said in the statement.

"Students have touched my legs and pulled the hair out of my calves and filmed me while I taught and mocked me. Again this in no way excuses my behavior, and I truly am sorry for my actions, but I don't think people realize the conditions that we have to teach in. I am completely heartbroken because have loved my opportunity to teach."

Beck said that he talked to Chidester about his side of the story.

"But there's absolutely no way that I can condone that kind of action," Beck said.

He said the school will discuss anger management with its faculty after the incident.

Because Chidester was already off school property, Cannon said it was determined the threat had passed. Otherwise, he said the teacher would likely have been booked into the Utah County Jail.

When authorities talked to Chidester, he "readily acknowledged" that he overreacted, Cannon said.

"Hindsight for him is working really strong, but it’s a little late," according to Cannon.

Contributing: Sean Moody