A school bus driver is accused of touching the breasts of a 14-year-old special-needs student outside a Dania Beach middle school.
Walter Ramrekha, 57, of Sunrise, is charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and was ordered held on a $10,000 bond during a first-appearance court hearing Wednesday. He was arrested Tuesday.
The incident occurred Dec. 17 in the parking lot of Olsen Middle School, 330 SE 11th Terrace, according to an arrest report filed by the Broward Sheriff's Office.
The report says Ramrekha touched the girl's breasts over her clothing as she boarded the bus to be taken home.
The girl's teacher witnessed the incident and reported it to authorities, the report said.
"The victim is also diagnosed as mentally disabled and is enrolled in [Exceptional Student Education] classes at said school," it said.
In a taped sworn statement, the girl described the incident to authorities and said she was in shock after Ramrekha touched her inappropriately. She went on to say that Ramrekha then whispered in her ear that he wanted to have sex with her, the report said. Investigators also recorded a sworn statement from the teacher who offered the eyewitness account.
Ramrekha has been employed with the School District as a bus driver for nearly seven years, according to district spokeswoman Cathleen Brennan.
"Student safety is always the District's priority. Upon becoming aware of the allegations, Mr. Ramrekha was immediately placed on administrative reassignment with no contact with students, pending the outcome of both the criminal and District investigations," Brennan said in an emailed statement.
Ramrekha has been on "administrative reassignment" within the district's transportation department since the investigation began in December, she said.
During Ramrekha's first-appearance court hearing Wednesday, Assistant State Attorney Eric Linder requested that Ramrekha remain away from children and not transport them while out on bond. Broward Judge John "Jay" Hurley agreed.
"It appears that you are transporting children who have mental disabilities and they're in a vulnerable position, and I think for the time being it's best that you do not do that," the judge said.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Dani Moschella said there is no indication that there have been any other victims. However, because of Ramrekha's proximity to students, authorities urge anyone who believes something similar has happened to any other child to contact law enforcement, she said.
"It's disturbing any time you hear an allegation like this, particularly from a special-needs student," Moschella said.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show this was Ramrekha's first arrest in the state.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.
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