Glendale police believe there may be additional victims of a school bus driver suspected of having inappropriate sexual contact with children.
Denis Alcazar, a 34-year-old resident of Los Angeles, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of false imprisonment and substantial sexual conduct with a child under 14 years. According to Sgt. Dan Suttles, a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department, the investigation began last October after officers responded to a report from the Glendale Unified School District of possible sexual misconduct involving a 4-year-old student.
"She's special needs and she has a hard time communicating, but through communicating with her parents, she was able to tell them there were concerns between her and the bus driver," Suttles said.
He said the child would be the first person the driver would pick up in the morning as part of his route, meaning he would have "access to her for a period of time alone." The 4-year-old alleged that Alcazar would inappropriately touch her during this time alone, according to Suttles.
"He had her in a confined way where she couldn't get away from him and put her in a precarious situation in a manner that was illegal," he said.
Alcazar worked for First Student Bus Co. at the time of the incident. First Student contracts with districts across Los Angeles County, including the Glendale Unified School District, to provide bus service for students.
Chris Kemper, a spokesman with the company, said Alcazar was removed from service when the district reported the allegations.
"The safety of our student passengers is our highest priority," he said. "Actions such as this are inconsistent with the training our drivers receive and who we are as a company."
Kemper added he was unaware of any other incidents Alcazar may have been involved in, and the company is working with Glendale Unified and the police department in their investigations. The company would have been notified by authorities if Alcazar had a criminal background, as convicted felons are not allowed to drive buses, he said.
Kristine Nam, a spokeswoman for GUSD, said the district contacted parents who had children on buses driven by Alcazar during his last two years of employment with First Student.
"None of them have given us any reports on him when we reached out," she said.
Sometime after the alleged incident, Alcazar went to work for a different school bus contractor, Brooks Transportation.
A man who answered the phone for a number listed on the company's website said Alcazar was no longer employed with the company and the arrest had nothing to do with Brooks.
"Whatever he did, he did it on his time … in his private life," the man said. "He got arrested on the way to work … and he doesn't work here anymore."
The man declined to give his name and immediately ended the call.
During the investigation, Suttles said detectives found that Alcazar was involved in a similar incident in Bell Gardens around 2013. That victim was also a 4-year-old girl. Officers interviewed the now 9-year-old who alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Alcazar.
Suttles said the false imprisonment count was for the Glendale girl, while the sexual conduct count was for the child in Bell Gardens.
Alcazar remains in jail in lieu of $400,000 bail.
It's believed that there are potentially more victims and anyone with additional information can contact Glendale police at (818) 548-3106.