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Bus driver’s actions examined in MTA rape case

November 9, 2012 | 11:46 am

Suspect in rape of mentally disabled woman. Credit: KTLA-TV

Authorities are investigating whether the driver on the bus where a mentally disabled woman was raped took appropriate action when he learned of the attack, an official said.

The 18-year-old mentally disabled woman riding on a bus through Culver City was raped in a 10-minute attack. Authorities said the only other passenger aboard tried to warn the driver, but it's unclear whether he got the driver's attention.

The attack stopped shortly before the bus reached its final stop, where the suspect got off, before the woman could report the attack to the driver.

An MTA spokesman said the driver, Ricky George, has worked for the agency for almost seven years and is cooperating fully with Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials. It's still unclear whether he violated department policy. Drivers are expected to dispatch police immediately -- or set off the bus' silent alarm -- when a serious crime is reported.

The attack took place on the near-empty 217 bus in Culver City just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Authorities said both the victim and suspect boarded the bus in Culver City at La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards. She found a seat at the back of the bus, and the man followed her. Authorities say that without warning the man positioned himself between her legs and began sexually assaulting her over a 10-minute period.

"During the rape, an unknown witness, the only passenger on the bus, attempted to get the driver's attention," the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The suspect, who authorities said Friday morning has now been arrested, then exited the bus at Sepulveda Boulevard and Slauson Avenue.

One Metro maintenance worker said he saw the bus come into the station after the incident, escorted by sheriff's patrols.

Tony Datolla, who said he works in the maintenance department, said that when the call of a disturbance first came in, he and other employees assumed it was a fight between passengers, a common occurrence.

"Then word got around a young woman got raped on bus," Datolla, 29, said. "Our heads dropped, we wasn't prepared to hear anything like that."

Datolla said he was shocked that such an attack, lasting 10 minutes, could happen on a city bus.

"You never hear about anything like that happening on a bus," he said. "You think about it's driving through the city, there's windows all around, there's cars to the left and right of you -- when you're at a curb, there are pedestrians. The mentality of the person who did this just ruled all of that out, just didn't care, just like a monster."

ALSO:

Rape on bus the third this year; ‘very uncommon,’ MTA says

Pursuit of bank-robbery suspect ends in shootout in Lancaster

Bus rape suspect had previous sexual assault arrest, officials say

-- Robert Faturechi

Photo: Suspect in rape of mentally disabled woman. Credit: KTLA-TV

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