A developmentally disabled woman will receive $700,000 to settle her lawsuit after being molested as a teen by a school bus driver.
The woman, identified only as S.R., has Down Syndrome and was 15 when the incident happened, according to court papers. The papers state she was one of two children on the bus on its way to a Ho-Ho-Kus school in 2007 when the bus driver touched them inappropriately.
NorthJersey.com reported that the Bus Driver, Richard Noto, was arrested the day of the incident after S.R. told school officials, who called the police. Noto pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual contact in 2009, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation.
Later, S.R. filed a lawsuit against the bus company, alleging Laidlaw Education Services was negligent in hiring and supervising Noto, said The Star-Ledger.
Laidlaw Attorneys said in court papers that the bus company followed all legal obligations when hiring Noto, including a background check.
The bus company said they did not have an aide on the bus due to a lack of personnel. Court papers show that it was not state law to have an aide present on the bus with S.R.
Davis responded to the bus company in an article for Newjersey.com, "On their website and in their advertising, they promote safety as their No. 1 priority. In practice, they failed to put safety over profit, and let their most innocent and vulnerable passenger fall prey to a sexual predator simply because they did not have enough bus aides that day, and missed multiple red flags in his background check."
According to Davis this had not been Noto’s first incident of misconduct. He said Noto was seen on school premises, when he was not supposed to be there, hugging and kissing students. He was also fired from a previous job for drinking in between shifts, he said.
After Davis’ remarks, Brad Gallagher, attorney for Laidlaw refused to comment.
Both parties agreed to settle the case instead of going to trial.