Ashley Ruffin will not be facing a felony charge, but instead will face a misdemeanor battery charge subsequent to a September incident involving juveniles that drew wide attention in Palm Coast and beyond. The State Attorney’s Office on Friday filed the charging information on Friday, the same day it dropped the felony charge and requested that the case be transferred from felony court to county court. It has been transferred.
Ruffin, 31, of Palm Coast’s R-Section, drew as much mainstream and social media attention a month ago from an allegation that she had assaulted a juvenile boy as she did from a 15-minute video of herself indignantly countering the charge and describing her role as an instance of instinctive protection of her son, who she said had been targeted by others.
The alleged incident took place at the Indian Trails Sports Complex, where Ruffin and her husband had driven to pick up their middle school son. There, Ruffin saw her son in an altercation with others, she intervened–she says to separate them and protect her son. But others involved in the incident accused Ruffin of actively enabling retaliatory violence toward one of the boys. According to Ruffin and her husband, who quickly took to Facebook to speak of their version of the incident, the altercation at Indian Trails was in the context of an earlier altercation, captured in a brief video, when Ruffin’s son was visibly pounded by another student in a corridor at Indian Trails Middle School, to the indifference of passing students.
Ruffin started fund-raising efforts online. She is represented by Assistant Public Defender Joseph Defrancisco, and is to be arraigned on Nov. 2. The charge she faces is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail, though if convicted, it is almost certain Ruffin will more likely face the prospect of a few months on probation.
The previous article is below.
A Parent Faces Felony Charge on Accusations of Abuse Over Incidents Involving Indian Trails Middle School Students
September 10, 2021—Ashley Ruffin, a 31-year-old resident of Royal Leaf Lane in Palm Coast, faces a felony child abuse and a misdemeanor battery charge following allegations that she held an underage boy in a lock to allow two other boys, including her son, to beat him up. The incident at first appears to be retaliation for another beating in which Ruffin’s son was allegedly the victim, in an Indian Trails Middle School corridor, at least as described by some of the witnesses involved.
Ruffin, in an emotional 15-minute video posted Friday evening, and her husband, tell a vastly different story. She says she refrained from pressing charges against the student who had attacked her son at school last week, as captured on video, because she did not want the student to have a criminal record–only for him to again attack her son at the sports complex, where she was about to pick him up, and where she says she stopped the fight. “I wish you were in my shoes. What would you do if your kid was getting beat inside of a school?” she asked in the confessional video.
According to Ruffin’s arrest report, the mother of one of the alleged victims approached a school resource deputy at Indian Trails Middle School Thursday afternoon and claimed that her son was “jumped by two other juveniles,” and that Ruffin had allegedly assaulted her son as well.
The woman claimed that Ruffin got out of her car, grabbed the reporting woman’s son’s by the hair and arm “while the other two males continued to beat him.” The incident took place at the Indian Trails Sports Complex, just south of the school.
The deputy went there to investigate. Several juveniles met him. The alleged victim told him he’d been sitting with his friends when two others–not at the scene when the deputy was investigating–approached and started a fight. The alleged victim’s friends sought to help him. Then the woman later identified as Ruffin allegedly showed up, grabbed the alleged victim, and enabled the others to hit him.
When the deputy called Ruffin’s home to speak with her, Ruffin’s husband, Miguel Aviila, answered, and “became irate and started saying he was going to see his attorney and would not speak with me until then,” according to the report. Aviila told the deputy he was calling the Sheriff’s Office to file a report.
Aviila on Friday, around midday, posted a video on his Facebook page that appears to have been taken by a student in an Indian Trails Middle School corridor. The clip is undated and has no time stamp. The nine-second clip shows an upright boy pounding a boy on the floor again and again, throwing at least seven punches with his right fist. The victim in that video isn’t fighting back, but doing what he can to protect himself.
Equally disturbing: whoever took the video obviously was standing in place, though it’s not clear what that person did when the clip ended. But several other students are seen walking nearby and turning, at a normal pace, to go down a corridor, indifferent to the violence a few feet away from them. Another student stops a couple of steps away from the scene, stands, and watches.
A school district spokesman said such incidents typically last a few seconds, and by the time school staff is alerted, those involved have dispersed. It isn’t clear when the incident took place, or if it took place during a class change. During such changes, faculty are in the corridors, supervising.
“This is what happened to my son,” Aviila wrote in a note with the video clip. “I was trying to deal with it the right way and they found out that we were pressing charges so they decided to make up some allegations when all we did was break up the fight Ashley was released with no bond or anything no probable cause now for everyone saying they’re a piece about the situation go ahead the truth will surface.” (The text appears in Aviila’s spelling.) Aviila did not respond to a message on his Facebook account.
Ruffin was in fact released on her own recognizance after her first appearance before County Judge Andrea Totten at 9 this morning. She is not under any court orders other than to appear for arraignment on Oct. 11.
The deputy’s arrest report notes that the deputy told Aviila he was seeking to hear his son’s and his wife’s side of the story, but Aviila refused. The deputy gathered several witness statements, reporting that all stated that “an adult female” grabbed the alleged victim in the Sports Complex incident and “allowed other boys to hit him, [then] pulling out a taser in a threatening manner.”
Most corridors at Indian Trails are equipped with video surveillance. A district spokesman said Friday he had become aware of the video clip, but was not yet aware of any in-school investigation of the matter or disciplinary follow-ups, and was looking into it.
The district’s spokesman later clarified: “ Pierre: The incident in the video clip was investigated by ITMS administration. The case was handled through our student disciplinary process. My understanding was that the incident occurred last week.”
While the two incidents may be connected in the retaliatory sense, they are entirely separate in the law enforcement and judicial sense: an individual who retaliates violently as a result of a prior violent incident is neither justified nor immune from charges in the eyes of the law. Unlike a confrontation in the moment that entails self-defense or a stand-your-ground defense, retaliation after the fact is, if anything, more of an aggravating factor that suggests pre-meditation.
“There is zero excuse for an adult, especially a parent, to be physically involved in a juvenile dispute,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Kids need to have leadership from their parents and taught how to handle disputes properly. I doubt she will receive a mother of the year award.”
The Sheriff’s Office has filed misdemeanor battery charges involving other juveniles.
Referring to the clip from the school corridor, a sheriff’s spokesperson said, “As far as I know it is being looked into but that fight was separate from what the mother was involved in, I just want to make that clear.”
“We did not know about that fight until about an hour ago when it was posted,” the Sheriff’s spokesperson said around 4 p.m. Friday, of the fight caught in the video clip. Initially, the spokesperson said, the school chose to handle that internally. The parents were told that if they wanted to file charges, they could do so–and they chose not to do that, the spokesperson said. But the school resource officer is now contacting Aviila and Ruffin to see if they want to move forward with an investigation on that case.
Audio: Ashley Ruffin’s Side of the Story
In the confessional video on her Facebook page, Ruffin spoke between sobs and tears, and disbelief that she is at the center of what has turned into a media storm. “I’m in so much pain because I would never hurt a child and I had to spend a night in jail undeservedly, away from my new baby,” she said. She decided to speak publicly “to clear things up.” She spoke of her 12-year-old son by name, describing him as successful and raised to be kind, but to defend himself if attacked. She said an issue arose with another student on the basketball court last week in PE class. He was called names, laughed it off, kept getting taunted, and when the two moved into the hallway, her son took off his backpack and the fight recorded on that nine-second video was captured. Ruffin said school authorities told her the fight was brief, mutual, and both students were suspended. But when she saw the video, she saw it differently.
“In our rage at that moment we said we’re pressing charges, and then once we calmed down and rationalized thinking, we both agreed, this kid is young, if we have a sit down with his parents, we can solve this together,” she said. But the school did not cooperate to set up such a conference, she said. The Labor Day weekend prevented her from contacting anyone. Her son stayed home Tuesday. Wednesday she was picking him up at the sports complex, where she’s always picked him up after school, as many parents do.
When she turned up, she saw her son “engaged” with the same boy, and more than a dozen other students on the other boy’s side. “All I could say is Miguel hurry up and park the car,” she said, referring to her husband. “I got out, I grabbed him by his backpack to pull him off and everybody just thinks that I’m some superwoman, like, these kids are big, the kid’s taller than me, I’m only 5’3”, and I’m pulling him off, Miguel is trying to clear the crowd because all the kids are going ‘fight’–you know middle schoolers. My son backs off, I said get off of him, don’t touch him, like get the f– out of here. I probably cursed, absolutely. I was angry.” She and her husband took her son and four other students home. She said she didn’t instigate anything or enable a fight–she stopped the fight, and would do it again to protect her child or any child she loves. “I wish you were in my shoes. What would you do if your kid was getting beat inside of a school?” she asked, in tears, asking where was the school’s anti-bullying policy, and repeated the sheriff’s “mother of the year” quip in disbelief.
She said she could have easily pressed charges against the child who assailed hers, but she has a child of her own and did not want to ruin another child’s life with a record. “And you people have the audacity to call me names,” she said, before describing having a breakdown in the backseat of the patrol car after her arrest, and what she described as a harrowing experience.
In 2018, Anthony Gardiner, 34 at the time, faced battery and disorderly conduct charges after videos caught him either involved in or encouraging a fight between his son and another boy, and standing by as the two boys fought. In a plea deal, Gardiner pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge. The battery charge was dropped. He was sentenced to six months’ probation.
When these incidents are settled and penalty’s are the end factor, I hope the Judge orders the parents of each kid involved be a part of the sentence. That would be Community Service and Counseling . Incidents such as described here can Not be tolerated in our society. Hope they all learn lessons and turn their lives around.
No need to question why these kids are acting they way they are. They are repeating the patterns they learn at home.
All I needed to hear was “Florida Woman” and it all made perfect sense. Much like “Florida Man”, Florida woman engages in the most insane despicable behavior humanly possible in a country that is not third world. My hope like all the other “Florida people” I read about is that they are somehow incarcerated or made to disappear and are therefore no longer able to procreate. Flordia may have the shallowest gene pool on planet Earth.
Concerned Citizen says
Nah. Not about Florida at all. And your lumping us all into one catagory is what’s wrong with society.
Most of us are law abiding productive citizens. But that doesn’t sell the news. Sensation does. And then allows for shallow judgemental people like yourself who live life perfect to judge the rest of us.
Daniel Scollan says
Bullshit. The environment of the public school system is like prison. Everyone knows it and has been there before. Middleschool is the worst. The innundation of tech is making it worse. Tech overuse and consequent addiction causes delay and even stunting of preforntal cortex development. Leads to more aggression, more impulsivity, and even higher propensity for addiction to actual substances. In short the current school system + ubiquitous tech is creating a generation of impulsive and combative minds. You’ve all seen this shit too
Frank W says
What would I do if it were my child? Well for starters I won’t assault a teen.
This woman deserves prison time.
If your child is getting beaten up you wouldnt do everything in your power to defend him?? ok father of the year frank :-)
Seen it with my own eyes says
It’s not a shocker that E. was involved in a fight, the kid has a nasty way about him. The way he speaks to other kids smaller then him and acts like he’s better then others. The kid plays for PCLL and has had many issues with kids, coaches and others. His dad isn’t much of an example because he just watches his disrespect and even has defended his rude actions towards teammates and coaches. The mom has some never posting tearful video when she put her hands on another child. Her son E. took a beating by one kid at ITMS he most likely was running his mouth and causing drama like he normally does so I doubt it was unprovoked. E., his mom and dad need to go to classes to learn how to act in a civilized society. The moms off her rocker and suffers from depression and clearly anger and rage. Seek help, hopefully the courts will order that so she is t raising any more of her kids to be little disrespectful monsters.
S. Winne says
She doesn’t deserve prison. No Mom would just watch her child being beat up. My heart goes out to her. Police had no business saying she would not be mother of the year. Something is wrong with the kid that was doing the beating. He should be expelled. This will follow the boy who was beaten & it isn’t fair. It is not like the Mom hurt the aggresser kid.
You have NO clue what you are talking about, i know the family for many years, and they have NOT raised their kids like that. E is a sweet boy. You are probably a friend of the other kids family and are defending him that bully.
I did not c the fight. Can’t give an honest judgment. I do know this isn’t good for nobody. Our kids need protection.
This is f…ked up she did the right thing for protecting her son from bully I would do it the same too if I was her. that kid the f bully should be in jail, him and his family. I am so sorry what happen to you, you don’t deserve this Drama u and ur son are the victims in this situation. You should sue the school allowing this to happen to ur child and the city too. You are a brave woman you are a supermom keep ur head up and you will go through it you did absolutely nothing wrong .
There is an unrecognized problem in Flagler schools that has been ongoing for years. My son to was picked on in elementary school, however the School staff are never around to intercede. They only seem to get involved after the fact whereby both students are suspended, both aggressor and victim. Where is the justice in that? It seems the school staff are too cowardly to investigate instances of bullying and punish the aggressor , and rather serve out punishment equally for aggressor and victom , how is that fair?
This is not how the real works, and it shouldn’t work that way in our schools either. This brings me back to an incident back a few years ago at the same school. Where a kid was constantly bullied, called disparaging names and had his family name disparaged by a larger boy! This too developed into an altercation between the two boys. Needless to say the victim had had enough bullying and decided to defend himself. In the end the victim was viewed as the bad boy. It’s time parents get involved with their schools and more importantly the staff (Cowards) who administrate these facilities. There are children in this school system who are allowed to grow up wild like weeds, without parental supervision or guidance. These kids come into the school system and think they can act like they are allowed to act at home. There is no mechanism in the school system to address these problem kids, in the absence of discipline by their own parents. This condition in our schools needs to be addressed now, teachers and staff need better training as to how to handle disciplinary issues with students, if left unchecked our school system will devolve into schools like is seen in inner cities.
As in the real world, if you are attacked verbally or physically, defend yourself, do not allow yourself to be the victim of an overbearing, aggressive student, it’s called the stand your ground law! It’s up to the staff and administrators to be watchful of student activities and nip them in the bud, however most are too cowardly to act appropriately in instances of bullying.
I suggest this school system adopt what I call the three strike rule. If a student is aggressive with fellow students he/she needs to be identified as the guilty party in an altercation and be suspended, the victom on the other hand not be punished. Defending yourself from an attack should not be punishable. As for the aggressor, he has three strikes, after the third strike that student is “EXPELLED PERMINANTLY” from the school system, and it is up to the parents where the child continues his education.
Mary Lou says
The lady is full of nonsense. Her son started the fight and then got BEAT UP. Her son then went home and told his mother a revamped story.
Karen Mclaghlin says
She is teaching her son it is ok to lie. My grandson was there for both fights. It was his friend that got beat up by the mother. My grandson tried to pull the mother away from the kid. Then the father tried to bully my grandson for touching his wife. Great parents..she make a good actor
Seeing posters support parents who join in on violent acts towards children–for whatever reason–is shocking and sad.
There is no excuse for it. Children live what they learn. We should be a lot more mindful of what we are teaching them–not just in words but also by example.
Kali Dawn says
Who the hell really cares who said what to each other amongst the kids???!!!! The 12 year old is getting his ass beat on video and nothing to this point has been done!!! What in the eff is that about????? The boy in the video beating the 12 year old should be charged!!!! There is more than enough evidence in that video that he was absolutely NOT acting in self defense but instead beating the ever living crap out of the 12 year old. As for Ashley Ruffin, well hell yeah she did what she had to do to protect her child and by law it is every persons duty to protect someone who is being beaten, stabbed etc. etc. As far as I can tell as of the details right now, Ashley acted well within her rights to protect herself and or her child within reasonable limits of the law. It is sickening to me the comments I have read all over Facebook about Ashley. Grown ass bullies making horrible comments about Ashley and how she looks. Look in the mirror at yourselves you ignorant fools and let’s hope your children don’t go to school and repeat the behaviors you’re expressing online.
I SUPPORT ASHLEY RUFFIN !!!
The boy beating her son BEATING should already have been arrested and sitting in juvenile detention!!!! This is Flagler County!!!! The never ending cover up of the incompetent school staff, school board and Sheriff.
Kimberly andrews says
No body was there and children lie and that’s that no one can tell me there kids have never lied so they will investigate and find out the truth so far only evidence they have is that the boy that was supposedly beating up this other boy was attacked by the “victim “ so I ain’t judging no one not anyone I have no right because I was not there to see for myself but here say does not hold in court so me having education in criminal justice is informing everyone facts that kids saying something happened is not going to stick in court but the video of that boy being attacked will and another fact is if she is not found guilty of those crimes she is being accused of the mother that boy and the sheriff office and also the school has a big civil case on there hands and money damages will hurt them she will ultimately come out on top if in fact she is not convicted upon further investigation hopefully she knows her rights and if she is not guilty she gets justice for her family and the fact that they were falsely accused and publicly humiliated but if she is at fault I hope the other family gets clarity and I hope they can come together as parents to stop the violence amongst there children and the school seems to be a problem to this should be a lesson learned no one is receiving parents of the year reward because everyone child is being affected by this weather directly or indirectly
Palm coast says
Deffently on the mothers side , he was beating him I’m up pretty bad why she did press charges I don’t know . If someone did this to my kid ,it would of been alot worse.
Ann Marino says
another one of Palm Coasts finest!!!
I assume you were the to so confidently pass judgement. If not you need to get your attitude in check, being judgements without all facts is very unfair, and exemplifies you disregard for everything America holds dear!
Put yourself in the boys and parents shoes for a minute, then rethink you horrible comment!
Mary Fusco says
Sorry Dennis, but some people are just street fighters at heart. That being said, as a parent, I would automatically grab MY child and remove him from the situation, not touch another child. The mother claims she is a small person. However, her husband was there. Why didn’t he as a larger, stronger presence jump in and grab his son. The fact that neither of the boys stopped fighting when adults came on the scene, shows that neither of them or any of the others standing around, have any respect at all for authority. So glad my children went to school when there were severe repercussions for this type of behavior.
Sorry Dennis, but some people are street fighters. That being said, as a parent, I would instinctively grab MY child to remove him or her from the situation not the other child. This woman says she is a small person and the kids were larger. However, her husband was there. Why didn’t he, as a stronger and larger person grab his son and remove him. The fact that these kids did not stop fighting when adults came on the scene, shows that they have no respect at all for authority. Sad that our teachers, that are paid so little, have to deal with this BS from kids. This behavior is learned at home and parents should be ashamed for showing so little positive behavior for their kids to learn from.
I figured this was the escalation/progression to get to this and the bully wasn’t handled appropriately in the hallway fight. Sounds like the bully doesn’t know when to drop the trash talk in competitive sports either.
I hope her name gets cleared at the very least. It’s not too late to file charges against the juvenile bully and that certainly has to happen. Lesson to others, nip this early and go after maximum charges early in the process for the bully at the school. Kids will be kids is an era long past. We see the stories of students threatening classmates & teachers with violence. When there’s a video like she has of the hallway attack. That’s enough to reopen any case with FCSO & press charges. The reality is that bully may be fooling people now, but he’s going to end up in trouble again, it’s what he’s about. And nobody is doing him or his next victim(s) any favors with that.
Mom has “started fund-raising” efforts but is being represented by a Public Defender?
What’s wrong with this picture?