SALT LAKE CITY – Officials have filed 23 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child as first-degree felonies against a Canyons School District Bus Driver, and a victim is a 5-year-old girl with special needs.
According to a press release from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office issued Thursday, “it is alleged that John Carrell, while driving a Canyon’s School District school bus, committed aggravated child sexual abuse against a child on the bus.”
Each count carries a maximum punishment of 15 years to life in the Utah State Prison. The original statement from officials indicated the maximum punishment was 25 years to life, but they later corrected that information. Officials with the District Attorney’s Office thanked the Sandy Police Department and Canyons School District for their assistance in the investigation.
Court documents indicate the alleged abuse occurred between February 20 and April 22. The victim's father told police the man allegedly rubbed the victim's genitals while she rode on Carrell's seat on the bus. Video surveillance from the bus "saw instances of touching from primarily two camera angles."
Court documents detail the testimony of an officer who reviewed surveillance footage from the bus. The documents detail the actions, which appear to follow a particular pattern. In nearly each of the 12 instances, Carrell is observed bypassing the victim to quickly unbuckle the other special needs children on the bus. In nearly each incident Carrell is observed spending significantly longer bent over the victim while unbuckling her, and in a few instances Carrell is observed shifting position to prevent other children from seeing what he was doing with the victim.
In almost all instances, Carrell was observed bringing the child to stand close to his body, often between his legs. Several times he is observed licking his fingers before and after touching the girl inappropriately in the crotch area and on her buttocks. In several instances he is observed shifting the victim's clothing and in one case the victim says "you've been pulling my pants."
In several instances teachers come to the bus to collect other students, and in each case Carrell would move his hands away from the victim, only to resume his activities once the teachers left. In several instances Carrell is observed moving a backpack or taking other measures to prevent other students on the bus from seeing what he was doing with the victim.
Carrell was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on a $3,000,000 bail.
The victim's father said he is glad the man was charged, but he said he wishes things would have gone differently.
"Glad, yeah, so it can't happen anymore to anybody else too," he said. "...I wish I could have caught it sooner, now that I look back there was stuff I should have been more smart about."
Jennifer Toomer-Cook, Canyons School District spokeswoman, said the district is saddened by the situation.
“Word of this has been very difficult on the entire Canyons community, from our students, families, to our teachers, school leaders and our bus drivers,” she said. “We know that now this is in the hands of the justice system and we hope justice can be served.”