Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A special needs van driver has been charged with raping a 12-year-old, autistic girl

From this story out of Boston:

BOSTON -- A school van driver was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an elementary school student, Brookline police said Tuesday.

A woman told Brookline police that a school van driver had sexually assaulted her 12-year-old daughter in Larz Anderson Park on Friday afternoon. The girl has autism.

"On the way home from school, he supposedly pulled over in a parking area, a parking lot, and the assault took place," Brookline Police Capt. John O'Leary said.

The van driver, Israel Santiago, 41, of Roslindale, pleaded not guilty in Brookline Municipal Court to two counts of aggravated rape, kidnapping and indecent assault on a child under 14 years of age.

According to the police report, the victim told her mother that she "sits close to Israel on the bus and that he touches her." The victim also told her mother that Santiago has taken her to "the farm" on two other occasions. Police said the girl refers to the parking area as "the farm."

The van company, YCN, has been cooperative in the investigation, police said. The Norwood-based company transports children and adults with special needs to schools and day programs. Santiago has worked for the company for six years.

"We are horrified that something like this would have been alleged to have happened to one of our students on one of our contracted buses," Brookline Superintendent Dr. William Lupini said.

Lupini said 13 to 15 other students were transported by Santiago daily, and said there is no evidence to suggest that there are any other victims.

Santiago was ordered held on $20,000 cash bail. He will return to court on June 10.

Read more here ...

(Thanks to Autism Vox for the link)