John Carrell, 61, has been charged with 23 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first degree felony. Each count carries a possible maximum punishment of 24 years to life.
The investigation began after an alleged incident at Altara Elementary School earlier this month.
Carrell was suspended by the district once these allegations surfaced in late April. He was the driver of a bus for mentally challenged students.
According to the probable cause statement, there is only one victim, a five year old special needs girl. But police are continuing to see if there are more victims.
Their evidence comes from surveillance video from the school bus. And from that, prosecutors were able to witness what was happening to this little girl.
“There were 5 young children in there and it's alleged that he unbuckled her and he wouldn't bring her down,” says Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill. “It looked like he would have her stand between his legs and he was sitting in the driver seat and there were two different camera angles that we were able to observe and based on that we were able to file the charges.”
Gill says that at times the surveillance showed other children present on the bus when the alleged molestation occurred.
“On a couple of incidents there were but there was a way that he blocked it,” says Gill. “He would block it with his body or backpack.”
Gill says the surveillance video showed Carrell allegedly making sexual contact with here as she was attempting to get off the bus. He also says the little girl attempted to complain to him about his movements.
“She made the statement 'you pulled my pants up' or something to that effect,” says Gill
The little girl eventually told her father and that’s when Sandy City police became involved.
Gill says Carrell would shut off the bus when the alleged molestations occurred. Gill believes Carrell thought the cameras would also shut down when the engine was shut off.
“But the camera was still rolling,” says Gill.Carrell was booked into the Salt Lake Metro jail Thursday afternoon and his bail was set at $3-million dollars, cash only. He had been an employee since 2009 and passed a background check.
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