Polk leader arrested for failure to report abuse

Posted at 9:56 AM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 17:18:25-04

Polk County deputies have arrested New Horizons Elementary School's dean of students on charges of failing to report child abuse allegations against a bus driver.

Courtney Stanley, 34, did not report allegations of sexual abuse by school bus driver Carlos Ojeda, according to Polk County Sheriff's Office.

The 72-year-old bus driver is accused of molesting girls with special needs on his school bus. According to investigators, two students came to Stanley to report incidents of abuse on April 8 and 12, but he didn’t report it to school officials, police or DCF.

"Had he simply picked up the phone and made the DCF referral and told his boss, he is off the hook!" Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Ojeda wasn’t arrested until another complaint was made to a school counselor on April 13 and the counselor reported it.

After Stanley failed to report the allegations, the driver went on to molest a child three more times, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"We are absolutely livid," Judd said.

Stanley bonded out of jail Tuesday afternoon but did not answer any questions. His wife defended him in a rambling statement about God.

"Things are going to come up, things are going to come up. God is going to reveal it all. The world is going to find out that God is real," she said.

Detectives said video from onboard the school bus shows Ojeda get out a piece of candy and lure a child to the front of the bus where he would then stick his hands down the child's pants.

Judd said they now know this happened at least 10 times over the last two years to four different kids.

Investigators now say Ojeda targeted very young kids -- as young as four -- who either couldn't speak or had limited verbal skills.

"He picked those victims. He stalked those victims because he knew they didn't have the ability to testify against him," Judd said.

Ojeda had been a school bus driver for nine years in Davenport and Haines City.

He is currently being held in the Polk County Jail without bond.