Ex-Arkansas school bus driver pleads guilty in sexual assault of student

Joshua Edward Bell

BENTONVILLE — A former Arkansas school bus driver was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for sexually assaulting a student, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Joshua Edward Bell, 27, of Rogers pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexual assault. The plea was under an agreement that Peter Giardino, Bell's attorney, reached with Tyler Williams, deputy prosecutor.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a teenage girl interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County reported Bell made suggestive comments to her and touched her inappropriately while they were on the school bus.

The girl said Bell came to her home after the school year ended in 2016 and sexually assaulted her, according to court documents.

Bell said the girl invited him to her home and admitted he had sex with her but said it was consensual, according to the affidavit. He also reportedly said he had inappropriate contact with the girl while she was on the bus.

Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced Bell to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He will have to abide by a suspended sentence agreement for 10 years after his release from prison.


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