Guilty plea in school bus incident

  • Fri Aug 24th, 2012 7:40pm
  • News

By Diana Hefley Herald Writer

EVERETT — A former Marysville Middle School student accused of inappropriately touching a girl on a school bus in March has pleaded guilty to a felony.

The boy, 14, clearly was nervous Friday as he sat before a judge in juvenile court. His voice shook as he told the judge he was guilty of unlawful imprisonment and indecent exposure.

At the start of the hearing, the teen’s attorney, Robert O’Neal, had advised Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis that the boy finds it difficult to discuss what happened on the bus five months ago.

“He’s real ashamed,” O’Neal said.

The boy was accused of putting his bare buttocks and genitals on top of a girl’s head during a morning school bus ride, according to court papers.

Four other students accused of helping the boy were allowed to enter a diversion program in juvenile court. They were required to meet numerous conditions to avoid criminal prosecution.

The district took disciplinary action against a total of seven boys who were involved at varying levels.

At sentencing next month, the convicted boy faces up to 30 days in juvenile detention and a year on probation. He has been undergoing therapy and likely will be required to continue counseling as part of the conditions of probation. As of Friday, probation counselors had not made a sentencing recommendation.

As part of the plea, the judge ordered the boy to stay away from the girl for five years.

The boy had written an apology letter to the victim before Friday’s hearing, according to court papers.

In charging the case deputy prosecutor Cindy Larsen didn’t think the evidence showed the boy’s behavior was a sex crime. He won’t have to register as a sex offender. The indecent exposure conviction is a gross misdemeanor.

The boy told police he was not sexually aroused during the assault.

The incident began when the boy began tickling the girl, 13, and pushed her down between the seats until she was sitting on the floor. The assault escalated as the boy pulled down his pants and touched the girl’s head with his exposed buttocks and genitals.

The girl, screaming at the boy to stop, struggled to keep from being pushed to the ground.

Two boys, 11 and 12 at the time, appeared to push the girl’s hands off the back of the seats in an effort to assist the boy, court papers said of a video that captured the incident.

Another girl put an end to the attack by grabbing the partially undressed boy’s sweatshirt and pulling him off the victim.

Prosecutors said the video shows the bus ride was “loud and chaotic with students moving between seats frequently.” There were about 40 students on board at the time.

The school district did not learn about the attack allegations until the next day.

The bus driver remains on paid administrative leave pending a separate investigation through the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, school district officials said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;