Former Hamilton County bus driver won't serve jail time after pleading guilty to raping student

Former Hamilton County bus driver won't serve jail time after pleading guilty to raping student

July 22nd, 2016 by Zack Peterson in Local Regional News

The 35-year-old former Hamilton County bus driver charged with raping a 15-year-old student in a motel will serve no further jail time.

Alexander Rodriquez pleaded guilty to aggravated statutory rape Thursday in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

He received a four-year sentence in state prison but it was suspended. That means Rodriquez goes straight to supervised sex offender probation for 10 years, records show. He also will have to wear a GPS monitor.

Alexander Rodriquez

Alexander Rodriquez

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Judge Barry Steelman accepted the plea agreement, but not before questioning the suspended sentence, said attorney Johnny Houston, who represented Rodriquez.

"The judge asked why the state wasn't asking for time," Houston said. "We did point out that [Rodriquez] had already served 100 days."

The girl's father said Friday afternoon he was disappointed by what he called a lenient sentence. The Times Free Press does not typically identify rape victims, and therefore is witholding the father's name in order to preserve his daughter's anonymity.

"We were immediately turned off by the fact that there was no jail time," he said.

"There was nothing else we could do. I'm disappointed that somebody that commits a crime sexually, especially against a child, gets treated like a DUI," he said. "Like you can just go to classes or you can just be supervised and that's punishment enough."

Police say Rodriquez drove the girl from his bus at Sale Creek Middle/High School to a loading station in March 2015, then brought her to the Super 8 Hotel on 8934 Lee Highway.

Super 8 on Lee Highway

35.086990, -85.070561
Directions To | Directions From

Rodriquez forced her to perform oral sex and raped her, the teenager told investigators.

Later that evening, Rodriquez received a call from investigators asking whether he knew the girl's whereabouts. She had been missing since 9:30 p.m., records show. He quickly drove the teenager back to the Birchwood area then made her get out of the car and walk home, she told investigators.

The girl's father said he got worried when his daughter didn't get off the school bus at the usual time.

He said he called the school over and over until he reached a teacher, who suggested he contact the girl's friends. A principal later told him the school had no control over the bus system and had no way of contacting the driver, he said.

By contacting about 20 students and their parents, the father said he was able to confirm with authorities that his daughter had boarded Rodriquez's bus. He then was able to file a missing persons report.

Court records show Rodriquez was arrested and jailed on a $350,000 bond, later reduced to $15,000, which he paid. He was later ordered to have no contact with the minor or her family and took a job with M&S Trucking Crew, a transport company based in Georgia, records show.

Houston said he wasn't fully sure what evidence prosecutors considered for the plea agreement, but added that initially, the girl told investigators the incident was forced. "And the evidence didn't really bear that out. So there may have been some overall credibility issues with her," he said.

Prosecutor Jason Demastus could not be reached for comment Friday.

Criminal resolution aside, Rodriquez still faces legal accusations over the incident in Hamilton County.

In March, the teenager's legal guardians filed a $10 million lawsuit, claiming the alleged rape made them suffer emotional trauma, lost wages, and irreparable damage to their relationship with the minor.

"For me and my family, this has been an absolutely heartbreaking experience for all of us," the father said. "The loss of a child would be about the only thing I think you could compare this to."

The suit, which calls for a jury trial, will be continued to Aug. 1 before Circuit Court Judge L. Marie Williams, clerks said Friday.

Staff writer Emmett Gienapp contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow on Twitter @zackpeterson918.


This story was updated July 22 at 11:35 p.m. with more information.


Loading...