- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Authorities in Frederick County, Md., said they have found no evidence that female first-grade students were molested by male eighth-grade students on a public school bus last year and have closed their investigation.

Detective Willie Ollie of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said the bus driver and a female first-grade student whose mother had said she had been molested last fall have both denied that any sexual touching took place.

But the bus driver did tell investigators that “horseplay” between the older boys and the girls, including tickling, could have been “construed” as sexual, Detective Ollie said.

The Washington Times first reported about the investigation on May 28.

Frankie Sechler, whose first-grader daughter has told detectives that she was not molested, has hired an attorney and is considering a lawsuit against the school system.

?She hired me because she wasn’t satisfied with how everything was progressing,? said Eugene Souder, a Frederick lawyer.

Detective Ollie said the bus driver, Bob Baxley, ?had an attorney, too, so people were very careful what they said? during the investigation.

Investigators found that two eighth-grade male students ?were tickling the girls on the arm and on the stomach, but [Mr. Baxley] said also the girls were doing some things,? Detective Ollie said.

He said Mr. Baxley ?kept saying that it could be construed as [sexual],? but when asked if the girls had been molested, the bus driver said they had not.

Detective Ollie said he had not investigated whether the school system notified Mrs. Sechler and parents of two other girls when one of the boys was removed from the bus in January.

Mrs. Sechler said she did not find out about ?sex talk? between the boys and her daughter until April, when Mr. Baxley told her that one boy had been removed from the bus.

School officials did not tell her about touching incidents, which she discovered last month in another discussion with Mr. Baxley, Mrs. Sechler said.

Steve Martin, associate superintendent of Frederick County public schools, did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

In an interview last month, Mr. Martin said: ?Once an incident of this type is turned over to the police department, we cease all investigation … We are very much in a holding pattern, waiting to hear back from the sheriff’s office.?

Mr. Baxley said he had been told by school officials not to talk about the case.

The female first-grade students rode a bus to West Frederick Middle School, where they caught a shuttle bus to attend the gifted-and-talented magnet program at Urbana Elementary School.

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