Lawyers say school bus video shows driver’s molestation of SLO County student
Video released Tuesday appears to show a Lucia Mar Unified School District bus driver molesting a 9-year-old girl while on his route, lawyers for the girl's family says.
The security camera footage was shown during a press conference introducing a lawsuit being brought by the girl's guardians against the school district and the County Department of Education. The lawsuit claims the agencies did not not properly investigate the family's complaints against 49-year-old bus driver David Lamb on two separate occasions, allowing him to keep driving the same route and continue sexually assaulting the young girl.
Lamb, who was arrested June 7, 2017, after a search of his Arroyo Grande home, 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.
Lucia Mar Unified School District Superintendent Raynee Daley released the following statement Tuesday regarding the lawsuit:
"Since we first became aware of the charges of child sexual abuse by this bus driver, we have cooperated very closely with the family and law enforcement as the investigation moved forward," she wrote. "Student safety is a high priority in our district, and we are deeply concerned about the potential impact of these actions on the child. Please understand that personnel, student privacy and due process laws preclude us from commenting further on the specifics of this case."
According to a timeline provided by Dave Ring, the family's attorney, Lamb began driving the girl's route on Jan. 9, 2017, and over the next four months — while she was often the only student on the bus — would show her "nasty videos" on his phone, touch and penetrate her vagina and expose and make her touch his penis.
Lamb confessed upon his arrest to exposing his penis to the girl twice, while denying other allegations, during a preliminary hearing Feb. 26, said Sheriff's Office Det. Devashish Menghrajani, who was assigned to the case.
The criminal case against Lamb is ongoing; the new civil lawsuit names Lucia Mar, SLO County Office of Education, SLO County and Lamb as defendants and asks for unspecified damages. Lawsuits only represent one side of a dispute.
"We have full confidence in the DA's office, and they're pursuing the (criminal) case," Ring said. "We are extremely confident that Mr. Lamb will pay a severe punishment for what he did. But the purpose of our lawsuit is to hold the Lucia Mar Unified School District and the office of education responsible for their role in allowing this to happen — and they played a big role in allowing this to happen."
The family of the girl notified the Lucia Mar Unified School District of the claims first on April 10, 2017, and then again on May 18, 2017, according to the lawsuit. The school she attends was also notified May 24, 2017, the suit claims, but no immediate action was taken.
Finally, the family reported Lamb to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office on May 30, 2017. Lamb was arrested roughly a week later.
"The problem with the school district's conduct is they are mandatory reporters under the law," Ring said Tuesday. "They have a mandatory duty to report suspected child abuse. They have to report it to law enforcement within a certain amount of time, usually a day or so, but they didn't. ... That's why we are bringing this lawsuit."
Ring claimed the school district did not review security footage from the bus that showed Lamb allegedly molesting the student even after the family brought forth their concerns.
The footage in question shows Lamb stopping the bus April 6, 2017, and appearing to direct the girl to sit in a seat behind him, out of view of the bus' security camera. He then goes back to where she is sitting, partially out of view of the camera.
In the edited video, only his arm can be seen moving back and forth in a quick motion. After several minutes, he stands up and returns to his seat.
"There is no doubt what that man is doing at that point in time in that video," Ring said. "It's horrible stuff."
Robert May, of The May Firm, which is also representing the family, said they are suing the district to "shed light on such a terrible situation so that justice not only occurs for the family and this young lady but also everyone else in this community and communities around the country."
May said the family hopes the lawsuit will encourage school districts to improve security footage on buses so they don't just show a small portion of the vehicle and more consistently report potential instances of sexual abuse.
Ring also added that the family hopes this lawsuit will encourage other potential victims to come forward.
"Mr. Lamb worked as a bus driver for the school district since about 2012. This happened in 2017. That's a five-year employment history. I would be greatly concerned that there are other victims out there," Ring said. "I guarantee he did it before. I guarantee there are other victims out there, and they should be assured if they come forward, the authorities will take care of them and they will assist them to get the help they need."