December 18, 2006 - Posted at 7:12 p.m. CST
DONIPHAN, MO - A Region 8 bus driver is free on bail after being arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl who rode his bus.
53-year-old Robert Griffith of Doniphan was booked Thursday morning at the Doniphan Police Department on suspicion of two counts of first degree statutory sodomy and one charge of first degree statutory molestation. He posted his $100,000 bail eight hours later.
The parents of the child took her for medical treatment at the Ozark Foothills Child Advocacy Center in early December when they noticed a change in her behavior. The Department of Social Services contacted the Doniphan Police Department on behalf of the victim's family. A probable cause affidavit alleges Griffith had sexual contact with the girl at his home and during his bus route.
Griffith, of Doniphan, has been employed at the Doniphan School District for the last 10 years as a bus driver. He was unavailable for comment Monday, but his friends and former neighbors say they can't believe the allegations.
"I was shocked, I can't believe it. I've known Bob too long, he's been around kids since I've first met him and he's never shown any signs of doing anything," said Noreen Wheaton, who lived next door to Griffith, "He's had kids that come to him and ask him for help on the bus. He carries candy on the bus for kids and he didn't treat boys any different than the girls."
"Bob drove my son for two years in Pre-K and I never had any problem with him. He took good care of my boy and I told Bob today that I would testify on his behalf as a character witness," said parent Wade Leroux.
But Doniphan parents weren't as reassured as they picked up their children from school Monday afternoon.
"You hear something like that and it's appalling, I mean it's pretty sad. But you know, like I said, I don't know if he did or didn't do it, but just the thought of it is pretty bad," said parent Michael Bridges, "I've taught my kids, there's no touching from nobody. If there is anyone that touches them in anyway, then they tell me, so that's all you can really do because they don't really understand at that age."
"It scared me pretty bad because we just moved to that route," said father Rick Hoye, "There's a bunch of sick people in the world and there are also a lot of nice ones, but we've started driving our kids since we found out."