A 9-year-old girl was molested by her school's bus driver for months, even after her legal guardians twice implored the Lucia Mar district to investigate, which they did before allowing the driver to keep working, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
The suit names Lucia Mar Unified School District, San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, SLO County and the alleged perpetrator, Arroyo Grande resident David Kenneth Lamb, as defendants and asks for unspecified damages.
A law firm hired by the now-11-year-old's family says at least one act was caught on bus surveillance footage. They plan to share a timeline of the abuse and some evidence at a news conference in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Lucia Mar Unified School District was not immediately available for comment late Friday, but a spokeswoman in February declined to comment on the case or even whether Lamb remains employed by the district, citing personnel confidentiality laws.
Lamb, 49, is facing four felony charges of lewd acts with a child under 14 (two of which allege force), two felony charges of sexual penetration of a victim 10 years old or younger and one felony charge of sending or sharing harmful material with intent to seduce a minor.
He's pleaded not guilty to all charges against him and remains in San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
He faces life in prison if convicted on all counts.
The lawsuit echoes claims made in testimony at a Feb. 26 preliminary hearing by a Sheriff's Office detective assigned to the case. Det. Devashish Menghrajani told a judge at the time that the girl, who was Lamb's sole passenger during portions of his route, was abused from roughly Jan. 1 to May 30, 2017.
The alleged victim told officials that throughout the five-month period, Lamb showed her pornography on his cell phone, touched and penetrated her vagina, and exposed and made her touch his penis.
When Menghrajani interviewed Lamb on June 7, Lamb allegedly admitted that he exposed himself to the girl, but denied other specific allegations of physical sexual abuse and said the girl was retaliating against him.
Menghrajani also said a district transportation supervisor conducted an internal investigation, reviewing some of bus video footage, and cleared him to return to his route, where the abuse allegedly continued.
“They didn’t believe (the alleged victim),” Menghrajani said of the school district. “(A supervisor) assumed the victim wasn’t telling the truth.”
The lawsuit alleges that the girl's guardians twice confronted district officials about accusations the girl made about Lamb. The second time, an unnamed transportation manager allegedly told the family she reviewed the bus surveillance footage and found no inappropriate behavior and thus returned Lamb to work.
"Given the security footage mentioned above, this leaves only two possibilities: 1) The supervisor did not bother to fully review the tapes available to her," the lawsuit reads, "or 2) the supervisor reviewed the disturbing footage and chose to keep it from plaintiff's parents, as well as not report it to law enforcement, to protect LMUSD and Lamb from scrutiny and bad publicity."
Lamb was arrested within a week of the family reporting him to the Sheriff's Office, the lawsuit says.
The girl allegedly continues to suffer "severe emotional harm, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress" and her family is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
The law firm Taylor & Ring issued a news release Friday announcing the news conference planed for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Courtyard by Marriott in San Luis Obispo.