Olympia school bus driver arrested in molestation case

ALLEGATIONS: Suspected of molesting 2 young girls

Staff writerJanuary 27, 2011 

Olympia school bus driver arrested in molestation case

Gary D Shafer (Photo courtesy of The Thurston County Sheriff's Office)

A former Olympia School District bus driver was arrested Thursday afternoon on suspicion of child molestation.

Gary D. Shafer, 32, of Olympia is being held without bail at the Thurston County Jail for investigation on two counts of first-degree child molestation, according to Lt. Greg Elwin of the Thurston County Sheriff’s office. Shafer is scheduled to make his first appearance at Thurston County Superior Court at 3:30 p.m. today.

The crimes – involving two 6-year-old girls – allegedly occurred on a bus in December 2010 while Shafer was acting as a helper on a route for Centennial Elementary School, Elwin said.

A parent of one of the girls filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 30, Elwin said.

“It’s possible that there are additional victims, and we are investigating them,” he said.

School district spokesman Peter Rex said Shafer had worked for the school district since October 2005, and had driven several routes to schools over the years, he said.

His most recent was Route 41, which serves Reeves Middle School and Hansen Elementary School, and he was on a bus for Centennial as a passenger to learn the route, Rex said.

“Occasionally, bus drivers will ride with other drivers if they’re going to be subbing for them,” he said.

Shafer had no previous disciplinary actions on his employment record, and there’s no indication that he previously worked in any other school districts, Rex said.

Shafer was put on administrative leave the first week of January when the Sheriff’s Office contacted the school district about the allegations, Rex said. Shafer resigned Jan. 19, he said.

“The safety and security of our students always comes first,” Rex said. “We are saddened and troubled by the allegation that one of our former employees may have violated that responsibility. It’s troubling for sure.”

Shafer was arrested at about 2:30 p.m. at the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

“We had arranged with his legal counsel to come in and meet with us,” Elwin said.

Authorities are asking anybody with information that might be relevant to the case to call Det. Sgt. Cheryl Stines at 360-786-5516.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com

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