News

Former school bus driver accused of attempting to abuse a girl, 10, faces felony charges

Incident happened on College Community district bus

CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge approved amended charges for a former College Community School District bus driver who is accused of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl and attempting to sexually abuse her on a bus.

Thomas Alan Williams, 57, now is charged with second-degree kidnapping and enticing a minor, both felonies, as well as two initial misdemeanor charges — sexual exploitation by a school employee and false imprisonment, according to trial information filed earlier this month.

If convicted, he now faces up 38 years in prison. 

The girl, who attends Prairie Hill Elementary School, told authorities that Williams told her to stay on his bus until he dropped off all the other students on his route to the Prairie school campus Jan. 2, a criminal complaint showed. After all the other students exited, he parked the bus in a lot on campus in southwest Cedar Rapids and pulled the girl onto his lap. He touched her inappropriately and grabbed her head with both hands and tried to kiss her before the child pulled away and got off the bus.

The assault was captured on security video inside the bus, according to the complaint.

According to Iowa law, second-degree kidnapping is when someone confines or holds another against their will, and enticement of a minor is when someone has intent to sexually abuse that person.

Williams’ lawyer filed a resistance to amending the charges, arguing the prosecution failed to timely file the charges after his arrest.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill granted the amended charges but set a hearing April 22 hearing to allow the defense to make its argument.

Thornhill said the prosecution also could make a motion to raise the bail amount at that time.

Williams paid a $11,000 surety bail — percentage of bail — a day after being arrested.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter asked the court in increase his bail after the charges were amended. Although Thornhill didn't increase the bail, he did put Williams under supervision with the 6th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services.

Williams “was relieved of duties immediately” when officials learned about the incident, officials said in a February statement. The district contacted Cedar Rapids police and the Iowa Department of Human Services.       

The district hired Williams in February 1999, district spokesman Steve Doser said in February. College Community School District performs background checks on all new hires, he said, and runs checks on existing employees every five years.

Williams’ last background check was completed April 11, 2018, and Doser said it did not reveal any criminal issues. The district process includes searches of sexual offender registries in all 50 states.

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