School bus driver accused of sexually abusing little girls

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Johnathan Palmares was an elementary school bus driver who investigators say abused at least two girls, between the ages of 7 and 9, through the entirety of the 2014-15 school year. One of the children's mothers was also an HISD teacher at the time.

"We believe that there are probably are more children involved in this," said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Daniel Werlinger. "Unfortunately, when you're dealing with elementary school children they don't necessarily realize they are being sexually abused."

Investigators say Palmares drove a route from Red and Kolter Elementaries to Gross Elementary. While they would wait for children from Gross, video reportedly shows him fondling the students on the bus with other children on board.

"They would spend 15 to 20 minutes waiting and idling waiting in front of the school," said Werlinger. "That's where we learned after the child had outcried that she'd been abused multiple times by the bus driver."

HISD tells Eyewitness News Palmares was hired in August 2014 and then fired May 11, 2015. He was initially charged with abusing one girl last summer. He was re-indicted when investigators realized there was more than one victim.

Palmares is charged with continual sexual abuse of a child and faces 25 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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