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Garden Grove Bus Driver Charged with Abuse of Special Needs Passengers

May 9, 2017

Occasionally we hear of some people in positions of authority who use their power to prey on the weak and the young. Here’s another story that reminds us that loved ones who are victims of sexual abuse should be compensated for their injuries.

A Garden Grove bus driver was arrested in late April on suspicion of abusing at least three women with special needs he was hired to transport, according to Tustin Police.

The driver, Jon Francis Farris, faces multiple charges of sexual abuse against the individuals for whom he was responsible. The suspect was arrested after a month-long investigation, Tustin Police said.

Lt. Jon Strain of the Tustin Police Department made the announcement, but did not release any specifics about how Farris is suspected of abusing the victims. However, the California statute cited by Strain pertains to sexual offenses committed by caretakers.

Tustin Police became aware of the situation when a neighbor noticed the bus parked outside of Farris’ home. They thought it seemed suspicious, police said.

“The reporting party thought there was something unusual going on,” said Lt. John Strain. “Then, when he walked into the vehicle the suspect was driving, he saw some things that he didn’t feel were appropriate and he called us about a week later.”

It’s unclear at this point if the victims and suspicion of abuse are confined to Tustin and whether police investigators are searching for other potential victims.

Farris was a bus driver for Western Transit Systems, prosecutors say. The 56-year-old was assigned to transport clients of the Regional Center of Orange County, which is a private, nonprofit organization that provides services and support to people with developmental disabilities.

Farris transported these special-needs people to medical appointments, to the pharmacy, or elsewhere as requested. It’s not known how long Farris worked as a bus driver. Also, it’s unknown if the abuse occurred one time per victim or on an ongoing basis, Tustin Police said.

Farris was booked in Orange County Jail and held in lieu of $100,000 bail, the police officer said.

In a statement, Larry Landauer, executive director of the Regional Center of Orange County, acknowledged that the organization was speaking with the victims’ families.

“This news is very upsetting to everyone in our community, and tragic for the victims and their families,” he said. “Our team is working closely with law enforcement to assist them with their investigation, and our hope is that justice will be done.”

Those in positions of power and authority can sometimes prey on the weak and the young. If your child has been the victim of sexual abuse while in the care of another—like the bus driver in Tustin—the Cifarelli Law Firm can help. Our law firm works to defend the rights of children, and we will work tirelessly to protect yours. Call us today to arrange a consultation at (949) 502-8600.

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