Crime

Lucia Mar bus driver who molested special needs student sentenced

Before a former bus driver for the Lucia Mar Unified School District was sentenced to 16 years in prison Wednesday for molesting a student on his route, he told the judge he’s “just glad there’s closure.”

Arroyo Grande resident David Kenneth Lamb, who abused a then-9-year-old girl over a period of about four months in 2017, had pleaded no contest in February to two felony charges of committing lewd acts on a child.

Asked if he wanted to make a statement, Lamb said he’s pleased the case is coming to a conclusion and that he has “a date to get back to my family.”

“The rest, I’ll just keep to myself,” Lamb told Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille. “Thank you so much.”

In exchange for his plea, other charges of sexual penetration of a child and sharing harmful material with intent to seduce a minor were dismissed.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Lamb will serve eight years apiece for the two charges, with credit for a little more than two years of time served, and must pay $9,600 in restitution to the victim, with more restitution possible should the girl require counseling and other treatment.

Once out of prison, Lamb, 50, will have to maintain lifetime registration as a sex offender. Had he taken his case to trial, Lamb faced the possibility of life in prison.

At a February 2018 preliminary hearing, a Sheriff’s Office detective testified that the girl, who was Lamb’s sole passenger during portions of his route, was abused from about Jan. 1, 2017, to May 30, 2017.

The victim told officials that, throughout that time, Lamb showed her pornography on his cell phone, touched her sexually and exposed himself to her.

The detective also testified that a district transportation supervisor conducted an internal investigation after receiving complaints from the girl’s family but cleared Lamb to return to his route, where the abuse allegedly continued.

“They didn’t believe (the alleged victim),” Detective Devashish Menghrajani said of the school district. “(A supervisor) assumed the victim wasn’t telling the truth.”

Lucia Mar Superintendent Andy Stenson previously said that district staff are “deeply saddened by this situation.”

“Since we first became aware of the charges against this bus driver, we cooperated closely with law enforcement as the investigation moved forward,” Stenson said in a statement. “Please understand that student privacy, personnel and ongoing litigation prevent us from commenting further.”

The school district is currently facing a lawsuit from the girl’s family over her molestation by the district employee. A trial setting conference has been scheduled in that case for June 25.

Prior to Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, de Bellefeuille approved a KSBY-TV request to take still photos of Lamb. After explaining that decision to Lamb, Lamb said he was “not really happy about that.”

“I’ve had enough coverage,” he said.

But de Bellefeuille explained that his crimes were serious and that public interest in the case outweighed his wish for privacy.

His attorney, Ken Cirisan, explained to the judge that many letters of support have been filed with the court and that his supporters in the community said the crimes were out of place for Lamb.

“This was an aberration,” Cirisan told the judge.

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