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Trial begins for former Canyons District bus driver accused of molesting young girls

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Posted at 11:43 AM, Jul 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-16 13:48:45-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah – Opening arguments are underway in the trial of a former Canyons School District bus driver accused of abusing special needs students.

John Martin Carrell is accused of molesting two 5-year-old girls.

He faces 33 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

Carrell was charged with 23 of those counts in May 2014 after police reviewed school bus surveillance footage taken over a three-month period.

The Salt Lake County district attorney`s office said each count is punishable by a maximum possible sentence of 15 years to life in the Utah state prison.

Court documents indicate the alleged abuse occurred between February 20 and April 22.

A 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.