12-year-old accused of sex assault on bus

August 30, 2010 2:23:24 PM PDT
A 12-year-old north suburban Gurnee boy is accused of sexually assaulting a hearing-impaired 3-year-old girl on a District 56 school bus. Officials say the girl told her mother she was hurt by boys on the bus after school Friday. The 71-year-old bus driver said he was unaware of any incident.

Parents of the girl contacted the school, and the child was examined at a hospital. The only other kids on the bus at the time were a 12-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy, according to police.

Authorities reviewed a surveillance camera on the school bus, and the 12-year old boy was taken into custody. He's being held at a juvenile justice center in Vernon Hills. So far, no charges have been filed.

Brand new surveillance cameras on Gurnee school district's 56 buses were installed as a deterrent for bad behavior. Now that video is being used as evidence against the 12-year-old boy.

"The mother had retrieved the child from the bus sometime after 3:00 p.m, I'm not sure of the exact time, and when walking towards their home, the child told had told her that the boys on the bus had hurt her," said Cmdr. Jay Patrick, Gurnee Police Department.

"It's hurtful to think that this might have happened to one of our children," said John Hutton, Supt. District 56. "It's hurtful to think that one of our children might have done something like this."

The superintendant says the school bus driver didn't notice the alleged incident.

"He said he didn't think anything abnormal was happening. He did notice that the boy was in the seat with the girl but thought that he was reading to her," said Hutton.

Regardless, Dr. Hutton says the driver, who has a clean record, has resigned.

Gurnee parents say they are horrified by the incident.

"I was really stunned. And yet I have every confidence in the superintendent. He will take care of what needs to be done," said Kay Serdar, parent.

"It's horrible. I mean, how do you put a 3-year-old with a 12-year-old on the same bus anyway?" asked Mike Umansky, parent.

Dr. Hutton says some of the schools in his district are kindergarten through eighth grade and there has never been a problem with the age difference on a bus.

"We understand that with the differences in age there could be problems. But most of the time it has worked out great. The bigger kids really take care of the smaller kids, it is really a positive experience rather than a negative one," said Hutton.

Parents also want to know why there isn't a school monitor on the bus. Dr. Hutton says that the only time they put a second person on the bus is if there is a safety issue and he says there never has been a safety issue with this 12-year-old in the past.


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