A Florida teacher, Joan Naydich, has revealed that she’s been living off donations after being placed on unpaid leave by the school following a brutal attack by a student.
The attacker, Brendan Depa, then 17 years old, unleashed a violent assault on Naydich at Matanzas High School in February.
The altercation erupted after Naydich asked Depa to stop playing on his Nintendo Switch.
Depa, a 6-foot 6-inch teen with autism, relentlessly punched and kicked Naydich, leaving her unconscious on the ground. He later pleaded no contest as an adult for first-degree aggravated battery.
Naydich’s ordeal didn’t end with the physical assault. She alleged that she was put on an unpaid leave of absence shortly after returning to work in August, albeit under a different job title.
Consequently, she has been relying on community charity to make ends meet.
Naydich’s revelation comes just weeks before a court hearing in which Depa is set to be sentenced. She is urging the court to impose a maximum sentence of 30 years for her attacker.
The assault left Naydich with severe injuries, including five broken ribs, a severe concussion, and hearing loss in one ear. She described the post-attack period as feeling constantly under attack.
The educator has been struggling to resolve her workers’ compensation case and expressed frustration with the lack of support from the Flagler County school district.
She has not watched the video of the attack since its release and has no desire to do so.
Naydich clarified that Depa’s anger stemmed from another staff member who denied him the opportunity to use his Nintendo Switch. She did not confiscate his device before the assault.
Naydich’s Fight for Closure in Violent Attack Case
Since the attack, Naydich has sought medical attention from various doctors to diagnose neurological symptoms she’s experiencing.
Her speech has slowed, and she struggles with patience and routine cognitive functions.
She lamented, “Unfortunately, a lot of my injuries that are not visible I’m going to have for the rest of my life.”
Depa’s plea of no contest to the charges could lead to a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, aligning with Naydich’s wishes.
She prepares to speak up at the upcoming court hearing to ensure he doesn’t walk free.
Naydich emphasized, “I want to make sure he cannot walk the streets freely. I have no idea what closure looks like right now. I want to be whole again.”
Depa had three prior battery arrests before the February attack and was involved in a prison fight in September.
His fate will be decided by Circuit Judge Terence Perkins early next year, as a court-appointed psychologist found him competent to stand trial.
Despite the family’s hopes to minimize or eliminate prison time in favor of probation and treatment, the prosecution has not shown an inclination to negotiate.
Depa is currently held at the Flagler County jail on a $1 million bond, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for January 31.
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