A contract bus driver accused in 2004 of molesting an 11-year-old special-needs student was charged with that and another count of felony molestation Wednesday after a new abuse allegation emerged last year.
Longtime driver Roberto Marty is in custody at San Francisco County Jail, where he will remain until his trial, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.
The latest accusation came to light last year, after the parent of a second female special-needs student notified the San Francisco Unified School District, spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said. Marty was “immediately removed” from contact with students, she said.
The allegation also prompted police to reopen a 2004 case in which Marty was the suspect, police said.
Although the district has no records related to those allegations, Blythe said, its transportation director recalls the bus company notifying police and school officials of that accusation.
Police investigated the claim and concluded it was unfounded, Blythe said the transit official recalled.
The district would have made its bus company remove the driver from contact with students if he had been charged with a crime in 2004, Blythe said.
But because he wasn’t, no policy prevented his continued interaction with students such as the one he allegedly victimized, she said.
Marty drove school buses in San Francisco from 1994 until April of last year, police said.
He worked for First Student Inc., a division of British transport giant FirstGroup, which acquired Laidlaw International Inc. in 2007.
First Student provides bus service to about 3,200 general education students and 1,550 special education students in San Francisco, Blythe said. The district has contracted out transportation services for 40 years, she said.
Blythe said SFUSD requires contract drivers who have contact with students to go through a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice criminal background check.
First Student spokesman Timothy Stokes claimed Marty had a “clean background,” but said he was unaware of the 2004 case.
“We’re working closely with local law enforcement with any information they need to complete their investigation,” Stokes said.
Blythe said buses have GPS tracking that lets the district know if they are late or deviate from their prescribed route. Asked whether any of Marty’s buses deviated from their route, she said, “It would be inappropriate for me to comment on evidence in a pending criminal case.”
Police are now encouraging parents of other potential victims to come forward to police. They are asked to contact the department’s Special Victims Unit at (415) 558-5500.