The lead story of the Hampton Roads section in today's Virginian-Pravda covers a $10 million lawsuit that has been filed against Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and one of it's drivers over a sexual assault of a 13 year old 1 1/2 years ago in Virginia Beach. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/03/hrt-driver-sued-over-sexual-assault-teen
The timeline in the story is wrong, and HRT's lawyers may want to use it to quash the lawsuit. The last bus on Route 20 going to the Oceanfront would pass Little Neck (if on schedule) about 12:35 A.M. (There's a time point at the adjacent Denny's for 39 minutes after the hour.) It should terminate at 19th Street and Pacific Avenue at 12:57 A.M. The last bus heading back westward to Little Neck would have already passed before the child boarded.
Some quotes from the story and my comments:
1. "The negligence lawsuit, filed last week in Circuit Court, contends that the bus driver, Kokou Fedy of Chesapeake, allowed the then-13 year old girl to board the bus after the city's 11 P.M. curfew and never called dispatchers or police."
First of all, a driver would never call police himself. If he has an incident on board, he radioes the dispatcher. The decision to call police is made by others.
Most of all, are drivers supposed to refuse to board children trying to make it home late at night? While a policy of refusing to board unaccompanied minors after curfew may have prevented this tragedy, it would set the table for others to come. Do you want HRT stranding children at bus stops at night?
2. "The driver helped her pay the fare."
Drivers as a rule don't help people pay fares. If anything, it shows he probably thought she was trying to find her way home.
3. "She thought (the bus) would circle around and return to her stop at Virginia Beach Boulevard and Little Neck Road."
Oh, puh-leeze! For any bus regular, that's a "been there, done that": someone gets on the bus not knowing the route(s) and/or schedule, then it's everyone elses fault. That probably would have produced rolling eyes.
4. "Fedy told the girl to leave the bus at about 1:45 A.M...."
If that's the case, the bus took about twice as long as scheduled to make it to the Oceanfront.
Moreover, everyone is asked to get off the bus at the end of the line. The bus would have been preparing to "deadhead" back to the 18th Street Garage in Norfolk via I-264.
5. "You can't tell me that no one could foresee this happening."
Excuse me, Mr. Roper, but you owe every bus rider in Hampton Roads an apology. By inference, every late night bus rider is a potential rapist.
The first comment to be posted on hamptonroads.com was by a veteran transit rider who realizes everyone is required to disembark at the end of the line and doesn't hold HRT liable.
Yes, what happened was very unfortunate. However, IMO, the only potential case here would be based on what - if anything - was said directly between the driver and the girl at 19th Street. Did she ask for help and he refused? If not, you can't blame HRT or the driver.