Olympia school bus driver arrested for child molestation

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by JIM FORMAN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Jimformanking5

KING5.com

Posted on January 27, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 28 at 1:44 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A former Olympia school bus driver has been arrested and booked into jail on two counts of first-degree child molestation.

The Thurston County Sheriff's Office says 32-year-old Gary D. Shafer of Olympia allegedly committed the crimes last month on a bus.

Authorities say, at the time, Shafer was acting as a helper on the bus, learning a new route. The alleged victims were both 6-year-old girls. The crimes allegedly happened on two different days as the girls were on their way to afternoon kindergarten.

"It is disturbing," said Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin. "This is a position of trust," he added, "we put our kids on the bus and hope they will be ok."

It's unclear if any more children were involved.

Lt. Elwin says parents who recognize Gary Shafer as their child's bus driver should ask their children if anything out of the ordinary has happened to them. He admits it is a difficult, but important conversation to have.

Shafer is being held without bail until a court appearance scheduled for Friday afternoon. Normally KING 5 News does not name suspects who have not been charged, but in this case, detectives want to know if there are any more potential victims. 

Peter Rex, spokesman for the school district, said Shafer had worked for the district since 2005. He most recently was on a route serving Reeves Middle School and Hansen Elementary School. Shafer also was a passenger on another bus in order to learn the route.

Rex said there was no indication of any previous disciplinary action on Shafer's employment record. He said Shafer was put on administrative leave the first week of January after the allegations surfaced. Shafer resigned on Jan. 19.

Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Cheryl Stines at (360) 786-5516.

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