Reporting Andrea Menniti
LODI (CBS13) – A special needs student molested by a school bus driver has reached a $4.75 million settlement with the Lodi Unified School district.
Last month, former school bus driver Richard Evans was convicted of kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old girl while she was strapped in on the school bus. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Last week a civil jury found the district liable for hiring Evans because he was convicted of having sex with a prostitute in his work truck before the district trusted him with bus loads of children.
Attorneys representing the girl and her family say Evans shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.
“It was very clear to everyone he should have never been put on a bus,” attorney Vince Finaldi said. “Would you hire him to babysit your kid? No.”
The school district did not make anyone available to explain why Evans was hired in the first place.
In a statement, the superintendent says she’s relieved a settlement was reached. She says in part, “…the district regards this situation very seriously. The health and safety of our students is the highest priority.”
The girl’s family wants the district to change polices to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
A priest is helping the girl deal with the trauma.
“I’ve been in her house to pray with her to help her rest better at night by saying prayers in her room,” said Father Dean McFalls of St. Mary’s.
The girl’s family will use the settlement money for treatment to help cope with the pain.