by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News
Posted on May 10, 2012 at 2:47 PM
Bus driver who molested girls: ‘I’ll never understand the pain I’ve caused’
OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Olympia School District did not do enough to protect a girl from a convicted child molester who drove buses for the district, according to parents of a 7-year-old victim. The family is now filing a claim against the district.
The parents of two other girls have already filed lawsuits as a result of Gary D. Shafer’s actions. Shafer was sentenced to almost 15 years in prison in 2011.
After his arrest, Schafer admitted to sexually assaulting young girls on the bus, sometimes even riding as a passenger on another school bus under the pretense of helping the driver with the students.
Abbigail Gutierrez, one of the mothers who has already filed suit, said she learned later that Shafer would have her daughter sit on his lap, tickling her and telling jokes to groom her. Gutierrez claims his behavior should have been a red flag to his co-workers and supervisors in the school district.
Gutierrez said her daughter is in treatment and still has anxiety about riding the bus and being around adult men outside of her immediate family. Her mother worries about the long-term affects the abuse will have.
In the newest claim against the district, attorney Darrell Cochran writes “According to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Shafer has sexually assaulted more than 20-30 girls who rode buses in the Olympia School District, from 2005 to December 2010, all of whom were either young girls or special needs students.”
Cochran represents two of the three families who have filed suit.
The district said it can’t comment on pending litigation, but in the past stated that Shafer passed all his background checks.