| Crime |

Special Needs Student, 11, Molested on Phoenix School Bus by Aide, Police Say; Assault Caught on Bus Video

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A school bus aide for the Washington Elementary School District was arrested yesterday on suspicion of molesting an 11-year-old special needs student.

Andres Mendoza, 70, was booked into jail in connection with 30 counts of child molesting and six counts of sexual conduct with a minor.

Mendoza's an aide on the bus who "helps" with the special needs students. On Wednesday, the bus driver told her employer that Mendoza "was acting inappropriately on the bus," court records state.

Surveillance video from a camera on the bus, which was reviewed by school officials and police, shows Mendoza fondling the girl's breasts and pelvic region under her clothing, records state.

In the video, police wrote in a booking sheet, Mendoza also puts the girl's hand in his lap and becomes "short of breath, grimaces, shifts in his seat and leans over and says things in her ear."

Pam Horton of the Washington Elementary School District tells New Times that the girl was attending a summer-school program.

The victim told police in an interview that the behavior "had been going on for some time," possibly starting on June 27. She also confirmed that, as it appeared in the video, Mendoza had reached into her clothing and touched her vagina. Police are examining additional surveillance vids for more evidence.

After Mendoza was arrested, but before asking for a lawyer, police say he admitted to touching the victim and "stated he was just playing around."

For him, play-time is over. Until he gets to prison, that is, where we're hoping he ends up as the play-thing.

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