Friday, December 15, 2017
Education

Hillsborough school bus driver resigns after being charged in sexual battery

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County school bus driver, charged Friday with sexually battering a 12-year-old boy, resigned his job with the district on Monday.

Dacquiri Crawford, 29, listed personal health as the reason for his resignation.

The district and police, meanwhile, want to make sure no other children have had inappropriate contact with Crawford.

Letters are going home to parents at Gorrie Elementary, Madison Middle and Blake High School, informing them of the arrest and encouraging them to contact the district or the Tampa Police Department if their children say anything that gives them cause for concern.

So far, no one has come forward, despite publicity about the case over the weekend, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

"We didn't have any information or evidence that indicated there were other victims, but we wanted to be sure," she said.

School district spokesman Stephen Hegarty said district officials saw nothing suspicious when they reviewed videos of Crawford's bus.

A 2001 graduate of Blake, Crawford joined the district in 2005, working as a substitute bus attendant. Before that he worked at Taco Bell. He passed a background check. The district started him at $7.44 an hour. He became a permanent employee in 2006 and earned top marks in his evaluations on all but one category: "attitude toward direction or instruction."

In May 2007, his supervisor noted Crawford was "becoming very defensive when asked a question."

Later that year the district's Office of Professional Standards was called in over an argument Crawford had with another school bus driver in the teacher's lounge at Westchase Elementary School. The other driver alleged that "the threats and profanity continued outside as students began boarding the bus."

Crawford denied the allegation at first. At a meeting in February 2008, he and the other driver apologized, saying they had worked out their differences and now were good friends.

After that, there is no indication Crawford had any problems on the job, for which he was paid about $15,000 a year.

Last week, however, a 12-year-old boy told police Crawford grabbed him as he was walking to his home near Blake about 9 p.m. The boy said Crawford forced him down an embankment near the Hillsborough River to a clump of bushes and performed two sexual acts. "If you liked that, I will be back," he allegedly told the child.

McElroy said Crawford confessed to the acts, saying he thought the child was 13 or 14 years old — which, he said, made it all right in his mind — and that he seemed willing to engage with him.

Crawford remained in the Hillsborough County Jail on Monday with no bail.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

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