Former Canyons School District bus driver John Martin Carrell — accused of molesting two 5-year-old Sandy girls — went through training that included a no-contact policy, the school district’s human resources director testified Wednesday during a preliminary hearing that is scheduled to conclude on Thursday.
Steven Dimond testified that school bus drivers can high-five, knuckle-bump, and help kids into seats, but no other contact.
"[Conduct] is respectful, it’s courteous, it’s kind, but there’s no hugging, no sitting on laps — it needs to stay professional," Dimond testified.
But Lorraine Miles, the school district’s special education route coordinator and Carrell’s supervisor, testified that the video obtained from Carrell’s bus shows "there was inappropriate touching of students."
She said there are four cameras on the bus, which record in color and record sound, and that bus drivers are aware that there are cameras on the buses.
Students on the bus are secured with a seat belt that is similar to a booster seat, one that goes over the shoulders and latches between the legs, Miles said. The seats have been a source of discomfort for bus drivers due to the district’s policy against touching, she added.
Charges filed in 3rd District Court allegethat the video footage shows Carrell touching the girls inappropriately while buckling and unbuckling them into their seats.
Charges add that Carrell touched the two girls multiple times when they rode his bus to and from Sandy’s Altara Elementary School.
Carrell was charged in May with 23 counts of aggravated of sexual abuse of a child for alleged ongoing abuse of a 5-year-old Sandy girl from late February to late April.
On July 14, a second case was filed charging Carrell with an additional 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child, for acts that allegedly occurred with a different child on his bus in March and April.
The first girl mentioned the alleged abuse to a relative, who contacted police. According to charging documents in the second case, the second girl had been acting out, and her father went to police after learning that Carrell had been charged with sexually abusing the other girl.
In both cases, Sandy police reviewed hours of video surveillance footage from months of bus rides before submitting the case to prosecutors.
Carrell’s attorney, the prosecutor and Judge Bruce Lubeck spent more than two hours Wednesday watching the tapes.
Carrell resigned after he was put on administrative leave on April 24 in response to the initial abuse allegations.
Carrell is being held at the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of a total of $5 million cash-only bail. If convicted as charged, he faces up to life in prison.
The preliminary hearing is to determine if there is enough evidence to order Carrell to stand trial.
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