Suspect in Chicago school bus sexual assault had prior history of abuse allegations

A driver charged with sexual assault on a Chicago school bus had been the subject of a previous allegation made by a teenage girl, the Breaking News Center reported.

The 27-year-old driver remains in Cook County Jail on $750,000 bond after being charged in January with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault. He also faces charges of kidnapping and unlawful restraint.

In March 2009, a 17-year-old special education student said the defendant took her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her. Two months later, he reportedly threatened to kill her for reporting him to police. At that time, he was reportedly fired but nevertheless was able to renew his permit to drive a school bus. On Jan. 8, he allegedly attempted to assault another school girl while driving a bus.

The mothers of the teenage girls are livid that the man was permitted near students even as the first allegations were being investigated. The Chicago school system contracts with about 20 busing companies, which employ hundreds of drivers to run more than 2,000 daily routes. These companies are largely charged with policing themselves and numerous complaints of sexual assaults on Chicago school buses have surfaced in the past several years.

Earlier this year, Chicago sex abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against First Student Bus Company. That lawsuit alleges a 67-year-old bus driver sexually assaulted a female student despite having previously been dismissed as a bus driver from another company after female students complained of sexual harassment.

In this case, the Jewel’s Bus Co. driver has denied the allegations against him. The defendant is related to the bus company’s president, the News Center reported. A spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools says the company has been awarded more than $40 million in contracts in the past five years. Those contracts are now reportedly under review.

A spokeswoman for the school district said audits of bus drivers are conducted twice a year, but with more than 1,500 buses and nearly 2,000 drivers, “resources are extremely limited.”

The sex abuse victim in the Jewel’s case is being represented by Nilson, Stookal, Gleason & Caputo of Chicago and the bus company is represented by John J. Meehan, P.C., also of Chicago, in Cook County Case Number 2010-L-008665.