Bus driver accused of promoting prostitution on the job

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on January 19, 2011 at 7:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 19 at 7:58 PM

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – A Whatcom County bus driver and part-time school bus driver is suspected of promoting prostitution – to one of his passengers.

The Whatcom Transit Authority says Jay Vanlant, 57, has been fired.

According to a police report, a 32-year-old man was on Vanlant's bus and struck up a conversation with Vanlant. The passenger told Vanlant that times were tough and he was broke. That's when, police say, Vanlant told the man "He had a friend that could perform a sexual act on the passenger … and pay him $50 for it."

"I'm very grateful the passenger came forward and notified us because it allowed us to get to the bottom of this," said Richard Walsch, General Manager of WTA.

Police say Vanlant doesn't deny what happened. He was booked into jail on suspicion of promoting prostitution.

Vanlant is also a part-time bus driver for Lynden Christian Schools. The accusations have nothing to do with the school, but Vanlant was placed on immediate leave.

"It was very shocking to us," said Roger Deboer, head coach of the boys varsity basketball team at Lynden Christian High. Vanlant has been on the team's support staff there for more than 20 years.

"He has been nothing but a good friend. Someone that has been a great support to me personally, great support to our program, someone that I've relied on for a lot of different stuff for our basketball team," said Deboer.

Vanlant was also a three-term Lynden city councilman in the 80's and early 90's.

Both WTA and the Lynden Christian School District say Vanlant was an excellent employee.

Prosecutors expect to file charges Thursday. Vanlant was released from jail, but could not be reached for comment.

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