Investigators are fairly certain something sexual happened in the back of bus #561 after it left the Horizons Academy April 27th, but sorting out who is responsible and exactly what transpired has lead nowhere as far as criminal charges are concerned.
That troubles the mother of the 11-year-old girl at the center of the alleged assault. “No one has reached out to me and that’s the hurting part,” said Lisa.
We’re not using Lisa’s last name to protect the identity of her daughter, a girl with multiple mental disabilities who hasn’t returned to the alternative school since the incident.
“To me that’s like denying her an education,” Lisa said.
According to a Manatee Sheriff’s report of the incident the detective who investigated heard conflicting reports of what happened from the 11- year-old girl and other witnesses. Two boys, ages 9 and 10, told the detective the girl instigated sexual contact and the girl blamed them.
“She told the young man no but he continued to put his hand down her pants,” said Lisa.
A bus surveillance video did not capture exactly what happened in the seats in the back of the bus.
A substitute bus driver behind the wheel that day did hear enough from students to file a report the next day, but did not notify the state hotline of any suspected child abuse–and for that she might end up in trouble.
The Manatee detective has recommended charging the driver for failure to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor, but the final decision rests with Manatee Prosecutors who are reviewing the case.
The driver is still working for the school district but is not driving that route.
District spokesman Mike Barber told Eight on Your Side an internal investigation of the driver’s actions or inactions is on hold until the criminal case is decided. Barber says he cannot disclose what consequences the boys on the bus faced for their actions.
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