- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Authorities have arrested and charged a Utah bus driver accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a 5-year-old special needs girl on a bus.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office on Thursday afternoon charged John Martin Carrell, 61, of Draper with 23 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Carrell was in jail on a $3 million bail after he was arrested Thursday afternoon, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.

It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney. A woman who answered a listed phone number for Carrell on Thursday hung up on an Associated Press reporter.

The maximum punishment for each charge is 15 years to life in prison, Gill’s office said.

Carrell abused the girl from late February to late April while he was driving a Canyons School District bus, according to court documents. Twice a week, Carrell drove the girl and three other special-needs children to a pre-kindergarten class at Altara Elementary School.

Investigators believe the abuse was limited to the one child, Gill said.

The Sandy Police Department began investigating after the girl reported the incidents to her father.

Surveillance video from the bus shows inappropriate contact with the driver and the child, police said in charging documents.

District spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook said the driver was placed on leave after allegations surfaced on April 23. He later resigned.

The allegations are very troubling, particularly to the other employees and bus drivers who are there to help students, Toomer-Cook said.

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