Lucia Mar caught pervert bus driver falsifying application, still hired him

David Kenneth Lamb

The Lucia Mar Unified School District hired a bus driver who sexually abused a special-needs 9-year-old girl after catching the man withholding from his job application that he was previously convicted of peeping. [Tribune]

David Kenneth Lamb, 52, abused the girl repeatedly when she was riding on his school bus. The abuse, which occurred between January and May 2017, consisted of Lamb showing the girl pornography on his phone, touching her vagina and exposing his penis to her and making her touch it, according to court testimony. 

Lamb pleaded no contest in 2019 to two felony charges of committing lewd acts on a child. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and required to register for life as a sex offender. Lamb is currently serving time at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe. 

In 1998, Lamb was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for peeking into an inhabited building, according to a United States Department of Justice report. The misdemeanor conviction itself would not have legally precluded Lamb from employment with the district because it did not require him to register as a sex offender. 

On Jan. 10, 2012, Lamb applied to become a Lucia Mar bus driver. Lamb checked “no” on the job application when asked whether he had ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Handwriting later added to the document states, “not hiring — falsified app.”

On Jan. 23, 2012, Michelle Ellis, Lucia Mar’s assistant superintendent of human resources, wrote a letter to Lamb that a background check revealed he failed to report a conviction from 1998. As a result of his omission or falsely answered statement on his application, the district was unable to employ Lamb, Ellis wrote. 

Yet, Lamb submitted a second application, dated April 16, 2012, in which he disclosed his conviction as “misdemeanor trespassing/loitering.” Two days later, Lucia Mar hired him. 

During a deposition for a civil case conducted via Zoom in March, Lamb said, on his Jan. 2012 application, he made an omission of a mistake due to the fact he thought it was a sealed record. Later, Lamb admitted he failed to answer the job application question correctly.

His eventual supervisor at Lucia Mar, Sharon Harwin, interviewed Lamb and told him to reapply for the job, he said. During the interview, Lamb told Harwin his 1997 arrest was related to trespassing and loitering. Harwin responded, saying that is not a crime which would prevent employment with the district and told him to reapply for the job, and his application would be pushed through up to human resources, Lamb said. 

Also during the deposition, Lamb said he had been convicted of misdemeanor trespassing in 1986. Prosecutors in that case initially tried to get him with a peeping charge, Lamb said.

When asked about his 1997 arrest, Lamb admitted to watching a person undress, but claimed the conviction was for voyeurism, prior to saying it was loitering. 

David Ring, an attorney representing Lamb’s victim in a lawsuit against Lucia Mar, said the district failed for three years to hand over a rejection letter that showed Lamb should never have been hired.

The district went out of its way to conceal that Lamb was disqualified from ever working as a bus driver because of lying on his job application about his criminal history, Ring said. 

Following the deposition, the district released the letter to the victim’s lawyers. Lucia Mar claims the the letter was missed early in the discovery process in 2018.

Additionally, records show two educators suspected Lamb may have victimized a second student. In letters to a Lucia Mar official, educators at a South County elementary school stated a second special education student from Lamb’s bus route was showing possible signs of trauma. It is unclear how the district responded to the allegation.