116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The mother of a 10-year-old girl, who was kidnapped and inappropriately touched and kissed by a school bus driver, said Monday her once outgoing and social child now lives with fear and “extreme anxiety” about going to school and riding a bus.
The mother, reading an impact statement during sentencing for Thomas Alan Williams, a former College Community School District bus driver, said her family worried after the incident on Jan. 2, 2020, because Williams knew where they lived. They didn’t know if Williams would attempt to kidnap the child again.
The family stayed at another residence for about eight months before feeling comfortable in their own home, the mother said.
“She has lost all trust and faith in men, even her father,” the mother said.
She believes her daughter was “strong and brave” for telling them what happened that day, and hopes someday to get back her “little girl” and become the family they were before this trauma.
Williams, 59, was originally charged with enticing a minor, second-degree kidnapping and two misdemeanors. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of third-degree kidnapping.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter, during the plea and sentencing, said Williams told the child when she got on the bus that day that she needed to stay behind when the other students got off, so he could talk to her about something. The girl’s brother tried to persuade Williams to let her go with him but she remained on the bus.
Parents put their kids on a school bus to protect them walking to school or home. The usual worry is over a traffic accident, not a bus driver attempting to sexually abuse their child, Slaughter said.
But that’s what Williams did that day. He moved the bus to a secluded area of the parking lot and pulled the girl on his lap and attempted to kiss her before she could get away.
The kidnapping charge means the victim was confined or removed with the specific intent to commit sexual abuse, and the victim was moved from one location to another with that specific intent, Slaughter pointed out.
According to a criminal complaint, the video surveillance camera on the bus captured the incident.
“Thankfully, she was strong enough and resisted his (sexual) advances — or who knows what would have happened,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter and Lindsey Garner, Williams’ lawyer, asked 6th Judicial District Chief Judge Lars Anderson to follow the plea agreement and sentence Williams to 10 years in prison.
Slaughter also asked the judge to determine that this was a sexually predatory offense, which would enhance prison time for any future similar offense by Williams.
Williams, during the hearing, said the delay of this case because of the pandemic gave him time to “ponder” what happened and how this has affected the child. There is nothing he can do to change it, but he “wished” he could take it back.
He said he thought about it every night and regrets it.
“I’m so, so sorry for what I’ve done,” Williams said.
Anderson accepted his plea and sentenced Williams to 10 years in prison. Anderson also found this crime was a sexually predatory offense, and Williams will be required to be on the sex offender registry for life.
School district officials, after Williams’ arrest, told The Gazette in a statement that Williams “was relieved of duties immediately.” The district contacted Cedar Rapids police and the Iowa Department of Human Services.
The district hired Williams in February 1999, a district spokesperson said. College Community School District performs background checks on all new hires and runs checks on existing employees every five years.
Comments: (319) 398-8318; email@example.com