Sarasota County bus driver arrested for Battery

Posted at 2:51 PM, Apr 19, 2017

A Sarasota County school bus driver was arrested for battery after he made unwanted contact with a 13-year-old Venice Middle School girl.

The investigation began on Feb. 13 when the victim said her former bus driver, Leonard Villari, 71, approached her in the school cafeteria and began playing with her hair.

Villari then reportedly entered the lunch line and later winked at the girl and touched her hair and neck a second time.

Deputies obtained video surveillance from the cafeteria which verified the victim's story.

The girl also said Villari commonly called her "baby girl," and told her he knew where she lived and that he loved her.

Villari is charged with a single count of Battery. He was released Wednesday on $25,000 bond. According to Sarasota County Schools, if Villari returns to work he will not drive a school bus and will have no contact with students, pending the judicial outcome of the case. He will be assigned duties elsewhere in the Sarasota County School District Transportation Department.