Lucia Mar Unified School District officials knew about a bus driver allegedly sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl, but they did not believe the girl was telling the truth, a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office detective testified in court on Monday. District officials then cleared the bus driver, and he continued abusing the girl, according to the court testimony. [Tribune]
David Kenneth Lamb, 49, allegedly abused the girl, now 11, repeatedly while she was riding on his school bus. Lamb is accused of exposing his penis to the girl, showing pornography to her and penetrating her vagina. Lamb allegedly admitted in an interview to exposing himself to the girl and accidentally showing her pornography, but he denied most of the allegations against him.
Last June, detectives arrested Lamb on multiple sexual abuse charges. Lamb is now facing four charges of lewd acts with a child under 14, two charges of sexual penetration of a victim 10 years old or younger and one charge of sending or sharing harmful material with intent to seduce a minor. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
On Monday, Lamb appeared in court for a preliminary hearing. Detective Devashish Menghrajani, who said he interviewed Lamb in June and sat in on the alleged victim’s initial interview with witness counselors, testified during the hearing.
Menghrajani testified that the sexual abuse occurred from approximately Jan. 1 to May 30, 2017. The girl said she was often the only passenger on the bus with Lamb for about 15 minutes each trip, Menghrajani said.
The sheriff’s detective testified the girl said that throughout the five-month period Lamb showed her pornography on his cell phone, touched and penetrated her vagina and exposed his penis and made her touch it. The girl said Lamb showed her pornography about 10 times and touched her multiple times on different occasions. All of the incidents occurred when the girl was alone on the bus with Lamb.
While testifying about his interview with Lamb, Menghrajani said the defendant waived his right to remain silent and said the girl is manipulative and that she was retaliating against him for a previous instance in which he told her to sit down on the bus. Lamb admitted to exposing his penis to the girl twice, though.
Lamb also said he may have inadvertently exposed his penis to her once while he was adjusting his shorts in front of her, and said he may have inappropriately touched her when she either fell into his lap while he was driving or was pushed by another student, Menghrajani testified.
The bus driver also said during the interview that he would regularly urinate in a water bottle in the back of the bus when students were not present and that he gave the girl candy to reinforce good behavior, Menghrajani testified. Lamb likely violated school policy by giving the girl candy.
Under cross examination, Menghrajani said the girl had been placed in an involuntary 5150 mental health hold and had been in trouble for behavioral outbursts and not following bus rules.
It is unclear at what point Luci Mar officials are alleged to have learned of the alleged sexual abuse. Menghrajani testified that a school district supervisor assumed the girl was not telling the truth.
Lamb currently remains in San Luis Obispo County Jail with his bail set at $100,000. He could face a life sentence if convicted of all of the charges.