School bus driver accused of sex abuse appears in court

Posted at 1:56 PM, May 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-28 23:19:33-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A school bus driver accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a 5-year-old special needs student made his first appearance before a judge.

John Martin Carrell, 61, appeared briefly in 3rd District Court where he was formally charged with 23 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony. Each count carries a maximum punishment of 15-to-life in prison, if he is convicted.

During the brief court appearance, Carrell would look around the courtroom. His hands were shackled behind his back.

Carrell was a bus driver for the Canyons School District. Charging documents accuse him of sexually abusing a 5-year-old girl repeatedly over a 3 month period. A probable cause affidavit filed with the charging documents claims the alleged victim told her father she would ride on Carrell's seat on the bus. She also said he would touch her, police wrote.

The alleged abuse was captured on video surveillance cameras on the bus, police said.

Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Nathan Evershed told FOX 13 News that prosecutors are not ruling out more charges.

"There are still investigations that are ongoing," he said. "If those investigations bear fruit then we'll take a look at potential more charges."

Carrell is "devastated" by the charges, but maintains his innocence, his lawyer told reporters outside of court on Wednesday.

"There's a presumption of innocence that attaches to everybody, including Mr. Carrell," said his defense attorney, Richard Mauro. "I would hope everybody would keep that in mind until we hear evidence in a courtroom."

Carrell remains in jail in lieu of $3 million bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 30 in West Jordan.

Related story: Parents say Canyons School District violated public trust during sex abuse investigation of bus driver