WEST JORDAN, Utah — A former Canyons School District bus driver accused of molesting two 5-year-old girls will stand trial for the alleged crimes, a judge ruled Monday.
John Martin Carrell faces 33 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.
Carrell was charged with 23 of those counts in May after police reviewed school bus surveillance footage taken over a three month period.
Further review of the surveillance footage allowed police to identify a second alleged victim in July. Carrell was then charged with 10 more counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
According to a statement from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, each count is punishable by a maximum possible sentence of 15 years to life in the Utah State Prison.
On Monday, Judge Bruce Lubeck ordered Carrell to stand trial for all but one of the 34 charges.
Judge Lubeck said the surveillance video from the bus shows Carrell being very affectionate and taking an excessive amount of time to buckle and unbuckle the girls from their seats.
While the defense has argued the video’s content did not support the allegations against Carrell, prosecutors have long been confident the footage was enough to send the case to trial.
“I can see his hand on her crotch. He pushed her up by the crotch back into the seat. It was on there for about 5 seconds. I think it’s a reasonable inference that that was not inadvertent and there may be an innocent reason, but that’s for a jury to determine,” Lubeck said.
Carrell’s bail amount was reduced Monday from $5 million to to $500,000. If released from jail, Carrell would have to be confined to his home, wear an ankle monitor and have no contact with children.
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