PEORIA, Ariz. — An Arizona school bus aide is accused of inappropriately touching a passenger, authorities said.
Marco Chinchilla, 66, of Sun City, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged on suspicion of one count each of sexual abuse and vulnerable adult abuse, The Arizona Republic reported.
According to a news release, an investigation began Feb. 17 when Chinchilla, a bus aide for the Peoria Unified School District, was put on administrative leave after not seat-belting a passenger on the bus, KNXV reported.
While the school district was investigating the incident, officials said they discovered that on Jan. 13, Chinchilla allegedly inappropriately touched a passenger on the bus, KSAZ reported.
The victim was identified as an 18-year-old with Down syndrome, the television station reported.
“She is a vulnerable adult because of the mental capacity issues that she is struggling with, so in this case, we do treat her as a juvenile,” Sgt. Amanda Gaines, a spokesperson with the Peoria Police Department, told KSAZ.
Chinchilla said he did not recall why he covered the cameras on the bus and told authorities that the girl was acting inappropriately, KNXV reported.
In an interview with the victim, officials said the teen told them that the “weird guy” had “touched her ‘private parts’” and told her he “loved her,” the television station reported.
Chinchilla has denied the charges and said he has never touched the girl inappropriately.
Chinchilla has worked for the Peoria Unified School District since August 2017, according to The Republic. Police said Chinchilla was a bus driver for 20 years and had been working on the current bus, which transports special education students, for two months, KNXV reported.
“Peoria Police Department, along with the Peoria Unified School District, is committed to providing the safest possible learning environment for staff and students,” police officials said in a news release.
“The district is grateful for the collaborative and quick actions of the Peoria Police Department to keep our schools and community safe,” Peoria Unified said in a statement. “The district is committed to providing the safest possible learning environment and inappropriate conduct by staff is not tolerated.”