Bus driver allegedly touched student, deputies say

A bus driver has been arrested after allegedly making unwanted contact with a 13-year-old student, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.

The investigation began on Feb. 13 when the victim, a Venice Middle School student, reported that her former bus driver, Leonard Villari, 71, of Venice, approached her in the school's cafeteria and began playing with her hair.

Villari then entered the lunch line and later winked at the victim and touched her hair and neck a second time, the victim said.

Deputies said video surveillance from the cafeteria corroborated the victim's story.

Additionally, according to the victim, in 2016, Villari commonly called her "baby girl", and told the victim he knew where she lived and, often, that he loved her.

Villari is charged with a single count of battery. He was released Wednesday on $25,000 bond.
 
According to Sarasota County Schools, if Villari returns to work, he will not drive a school bus and will have no contact with students, pending the judicial outcome of the case. He will be assigned duties elsewhere in the Sarasota County School District Transportation Department.
 
He has been employed by the district since March 7, 2013.
 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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