Wagoner County Parents Disturbed By Former Bus Driver's Arrest

Tuesday, April 22nd 2014, 7:16 pm
By: News On 6

Some parents are disturbed after learning a former bus driver was arrested for child molestation. The Wagoner County Sheriff's office suspects Robert Searl sexually abused as many as nine children. But right now, it's not clear where he met the victims.

The superintendent of Wagoner Public Schools said he was shocked to learn a man who drove buses for three years was arrested for child sex crimes.

It's a small district with 24,000 students, so it didn't take long for news to travel about a former school bus driver's arrest.

Parent Kristi West, said, "I just think it's gross. You can't trust anybody anymore."

Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert said deputies have reason to believe Searl sexually abused and made lewd proposals to as many as nine children. Investigators say the victims are between eight and twelve years old.

"It makes you want to think about it real hard. You never know and just as soon as the person you think you can trust, you don't know," said parent Brad West.

Searl started in 2009 as a substitute bus driver for Wagoner Public Schools; in 2010 he was hired full time. The next year, he started doing maintenance work before resigning in 2012.

Superintendent Monte Thompson said Searl passed his background check in 2009 and was always a hard worker.

"He had a good reputation. Someone who wanted to work hard with what he did. We had no negatives as far as his work habits or anything like that," Thompson said.

Although all of the victims are school-aged children, investigators are still working to determine if Searl met the victims on the school bus.

4/22/2014 Related Story: Wagoner Superintendent Responds To Former Bus Driver's Arrest For Sex Abuse

"When we have them here, our job is to make sure they're safe and secure. When we hear that a former employee has been charged with these kind of charges, it's disturbing. It really is," Thompson said.

Brad West said, "It's kind of spooky knowing we put all our faith in the school system. We trust them with everything."

Parents said this is a good time to speak with children about stranger danger.

"You've got to teach them when they're little, so that way maybe they will not get involved in that or get caught up in it," Brad said.

The District Attorney's office said Searl is expected to be in court next week.