No charges to be filed in Rock Hill bus incident

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2003

Local authorities said they do not plan to file charges against a Rock Hill School bus driver who allegedly paid one child $5 to assault another child on the bus.

The parents of a child who was allegedly beaten said they are disappointed with that decision.

"We took the allegations very seriously, once we knew there were allegations made," Lawrence County Prosecutor J. B. Collier, Jr. said. "I spoke with Sheriff Sexton and his office did a very thorough investigation, spoke with bus drivers, teachers, students, school administrators. They spoke with the little girl that was said to have hit the Littlejohn child. Dozens of people were interviewed and there was just not a basis for a criminal complaint."

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Collier said investigators spoke with the child who allegedly hit Raymond Littlejohn and she admitted that she hit him, but said she hit him for others reasons and under other circumstances.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton, whose office handled the investigation, said numerous adults and children were contacted and gave statements about the alleged incident. In the end, officials came to the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to support the claim against the bus driver.

"We investigated the allegations as we understood them, spent numerous man hours on this, talked to probably more than 30 individuals and presented our information to the prosecutor's office. There was not enough evidence to pursue a criminal complaint," Sexton said.

The victim's father, Randy Littlejohn said he believes some of the people who were interviewed about the matter lied about what they knew. He said he also believes investigators were slow in contacting key witnesses, giving others an opportunity to coach or coerce testimony.

"I'm angriest at the people who didn't tell the truth, whoever they are," Littlejohn said. "That's all we asked in the beginning, was that people tell the truth. It's a spineless thing to lie regardless of who your allegiance is to. People told us one thing before the investigation started and then later, their written testimony was different."

Collier said if this is the case, and that people were told to lie or coached in their testimony, investigators did not turn up any evidence of this.

Littlejohn said he and his wife have not decided if they will send their son, Ray, back to Rock Hill Elementary School next year. They may even move out of the area and away from what has been a less-than-positive school experience.

"I lived here 18 years, and moved away. I was in the Air Force 20 years. I'm from here, but this is not what I had in mind when I came back home," Littlejohn said.

Rock Hill School Superintendent Lloyd Evans said he he had been reasonably certain when he conducted his own investigation that the bus driver had not done anything wrong.

"We did conduct an investigation on the district level and came up with nothing to substantiate to the point of taking disciplinary action," Evans said. "The sheriff's office and the prosecutor's office did a more extensive investigation, talked to a lot more people. I wasn't 100 percent sure what they would come up with."

Evans said his buses are equipped with camera boxes and he does rotate cameras through the buses. After the alleged incident, a camera was put on the bus of the driver in question.