Former school bus driver faces battery charge for unwanted contact with student

Posted at 7:25 PM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 19:25:57-04

A former school bus driver has been accused of crossing the line with a 13-year-old middle school student. 

Leonard Villari, 71, of  Venice was arrested Wednesday and charged with one county of battery, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said. 

He was charged after a 13-year-old student told deputies Villari approached her in the school cafeteria, a sheriff''s office release said. He began playing with her hair. 

Villari then entered the cafeteria lunch line. He later winked at the victim and touched her hair again and her neck.

Deputies obtained the cafeteria surveillance video, which corroborated the victim's story.  

The student also told authorities Villari commonly called her 'baby girl" last year and told her he knew where she lived and that he loved her. 

Villari was booked into the Sarasota County Jail and released Wednesday on $25,000 bond. 

According to Sarasota County School District officials, if Villari returns to work, he will not drive a school bus. He would not have contact with students, pending the outcome of the case. He would be assigned duties elsewhere in the Sarasota County School District Transportation Department.