CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake police continue to look for more children who may have been inappropriately touched by a city school bus driver.
Last week, 70-year-old Larry Homan was arrested because police say they have proof he fondled students on his school bus.
“There is that immediate flash of anger that a child is being manipulated or hurt,” Licensed Clinical Social Worker Gary Rotfus told WAVY.com.
Police say at least one child — a student riding on Homan’s school bus — was an alleged victim. He is accused of fondling a 5-year-old girl during his route.
“It tears me up as a parent,” added Chesapeake’s Michael Piercy. “It really does.”
Piercy said he once caught his 6-year-old daughter sitting on Homan’s lap. After WAVY TV broke the news of the driver’s arrest, his daughter told Piercy a secret.
“He touched my thigh, but he touched my thigh real hard,” Piercy’s daughter said. “He squeezed my thigh. He touched my chest one time, but I didn’t think anything of it.”
Piercy had no idea. Rotfus said that is not uncommon for child victims of sexual predators.
“A child may not even realize they’re victimized at first, because it is someone they are friendly with on a day-to-day basis,” Rotfus said.
Police continue to look for other possible victims, but they need help from parents.
“We all know that people in the family, your dad, your grandparents, your uncle or aunt, will give you a hug,” Rotfus said. “You should ask, ‘Has anybody else been wanting to give you hugs or have you sit on their lap?’ Ask open-ended sorts of questions like that.”
Rotfus believes what happened in Chesapeake serves as reminder that parents have to be on their toes. “What parents should do is take this as an opportunity to sit their child down and review with them what’s a good touch and what’s a bad touch,” he said.
Rotfus said parents need to find that fine line between having a conversation with children, but not scaring them so much they go into a shell.