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Meridian school bus driver arrested for lewd conduct with 8-year-old girl

Investigators say the 79-year-old forced the child to touch him inappropriately as she boarded his school bus earlier this week.
Credit: Ada Co. Jail
Leroy Morris

MERIDIAN, Idaho — A 79-year-old school bus driver is facing a felony charge after police say he forced a young girl to touch him inappropriately as she was getting onto his bus this week.

Leroy Eveard Morris of Meridian is held in the Ada County Jail on one count of lewd conduct.

According to the Ada County Sheriff's Office, deputies began investigating Thursday after receiving a complaint that Morris had made a sexual innuendo-type comment to a preteen girl on his bus. During that investigation, deputies found evidence that he had had "inappropriate sexual contact" with a different preteen as she boarded his school bus. 

Morris was arrested after investigators interviewed multiple people, including officials with the bus company. The company is cooperating with the investigation, according to the sheriff's office.

Prosecutor Lejon Boudreaux said Morris grabbed the 8-year-old victim and placed her hand on his crotch over his pants. The incident was caught on video on the bus, the lawyer said.

Boudreaux added that the suspect had displayed possible "grooming" behavior by previously singling that child out to give candy and attention.

"The state believes that Mr. Morris is an extreme danger to the community," he said.

But Morris' public defender urged the judge to set a low bond, pointing out that Morris had zero criminal history and had scored very low on a risk assessment tool.

Judge Mark Manweiler ultimately set bond at $100,000, telling Morris that he could argue for a lower bail at his next hearing on Jan. 25. The judge also issued a no-contact order betwene Morris and the 8-year-old.

Morris told the judge earlier in the hearing that he was no longer employed by the bus company.

The Ada County Sheriff's Office says that Morris may have additional victims, and is urging anyone with information to contact Detective Shellie Strolberg at 208-577-3788 or sstrolberg@adacounty.id.gov.

Morris' bus route in the West Ada School District Silver Sage Elementary School, Christine Donnell Elementary School in south Ada County and Centennial, Mountain View, and Renaissance high schools.

If convicted of lewd conduct, he could face up to life in prison.

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