MERCED -- A 58-year-old school bus driver was arrested this month, accused of intending to commit sexual acts with a 17-year-old female student, Merced police reported Monday.
The suspect was a bus driver with First Student School Bus Transportation Services, a private company that contracts with Merced County Office of Education. He was terminated after the alleged incident.
Efrain Orozco of Planada was taken into custody about 4 p.m. Sept. 11 after an officer reported finding him in a car with the student in an alley between Eighth and Ninth avenues, according to Lt. Andre Matthews.
The officer became suspicious and approached Orozco's car after seeing it in the alley. He saw Orozco and the girl in the back seat of the car with their pants down, according to police.
Matthews said Orozco and the girl tried to pull their pants back up when the officer started talking to them.
During questioning, Orozco claimed he thought the girl was older, Matthews said. But Matthews said Orozco met the girl through his job. Orozco and the girl are believed to have met in the alley after he completed his route.
"He should have known this was a child," Matthews said.
Tim Stokes, a spokesman for First Student, said drivers must undergo a background check before being hired, and Orozco had a clean record. He was hired in February.
The company requires each prospective driver pass federal, state and local background checks, which include residency, work and criminal histories, Stokes said.
Orozco was booked at the Merced County Jail, but was released after posting bail. He's due to appear in Merced County Superior Court on Oct. 11.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.