EAST ROCKHILL — The family of a special needs student whose bus driver pleaded guilty to having committed sexual assault against her and another student has filed a lawsuit against Pennridge School District.
"The lawsuit seeks to hold Pennridge accountable for exposing the plaintiff and other students to easily avoidable abuse and mistreatment at the hands of James McIntyre, a bus driver hired to transport the victim from Pennridge to The Vanguard School, a school in Malvern, Pennsylvania that was better equipped to meet her special needs," a Jan. 14 release said.
McIntyre, now 79, of Hilltown, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court in 2016 to charges of institutional sexual assault, endangering the welfare of children and indecent exposure in connection with incidents that occurred between 2009 and 2015 while driving a van transporting the students, MediaNews Group archives show.
He was sentenced to two-and-a-half to six years in state prison and is now a registered sex offender, the lawsuit says.
The victim's name is not given in the lawsuit, in which she is referred to as Jane Doe M.G.
"McIntyre would sexually abuse Jane Doe M.G. on the way to and from school. Specifically, McIntyre would touch Jane Doe M.G. and have her touch him while they were at traffic lights or while they were stopped. One of the locations where the sexual abuse occurred frequently was at the location of Route 63 in the area of the Pennsylvania interchange, Towamencin Township, Montgomery County, since it would take several light cycles with traffic to get through the traffic light, giving McIntyre an opportunity to sexually abuse Jane Doe M.G. with limited interruption," according to the suit, filed in Montgomery County Court by Brian Kent, Stewart Ryan and Alexandria MacMaster of the Laffey, Bucci & Kent, LLC law firm in Philadelphia.
McIntyre used his abuse of the other teenage female victim to groom Doe, discussing the abuse of the other victim with Doe to make her believe what he was doing with her was acceptable and normal, the lawsuit says.
It says Doe has suffered and continues to suffer physical and emotional pain and continues to be unable to perform daily activities. It asks for more than $50,000 of compensatory and punitive damages on each of seven counts brought against the school district.
"Children with special needs and intellectual disabilities are the most vulnerable population among us. This cannot and should not ever happen at the hands of adults who are tasked with protecting our children. Simple safety rules should have been in place. Pennridge School District must be held accountable for putting these students at risk and failing to put into action the necessary precautions to keep students safe," Kent said in the release.
At the time of his arrest, McIntyre had been employed by the Pennridge transportation department since 2002, according to the MediaNews Group article, which said he was suspended without pay and banned from school property pending the outcome of the investigation.
"Through news reports, the Pennridge School District has become aware of a lawsuit filed by a former student regarding actions taken by a van driver who later pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought against him. Having only just received the lawsuit, the District has not had an opportunity to comprehensively review any of the specifics of the lawsuit and cannot comment on the allegations contained in the lawsuit," the district said in a Jan. 19 release. "The District can state that, immediately after learning of this matter in January of 2016, the District took prompt action and cooperated with the relevant authorities. The former employee never returned to the District after allegations regarding his illegal conduct were first reported to the District."
Note: This article was updated Jan. 19 to include the statement from Pennridge School District.