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Ex-MTA Driver Gets 3 Years for Fondling Bus Passengers

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A former Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver was sentenced Thursday to three years in jail on sexual battery charges for fondling two teenagers and a woman while on duty, sometimes while driving, authorities said.

William Leroy Smythe, 57, of Tarzana was sentenced to the maximum penalty by San Fernando Municipal Judge Roy Carstairs, who also ordered Smythe to register as a sex offender, Deputy City Atty. Jose Egurbide said.

After a two-week trial, a jury convicted Smythe on July 22 on three counts of sexual battery, two counts of child molestation and one count of battery.

Defense attorney Sharon Morris said her client will appeal the conviction.

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“It seemed to be too harsh of a sentence,” she said. “He had no prior record whatsoever.”

The charges stemmed from two incidents Nov. 25, 1997, while Smythe was a bus driver. He has since been terminated by the MTA, Egurbide said.

Two 17-year-old girls boarded Smythe’s bus in Granada Hills that day. Smythe made crude comments toward one of the girls who was carrying an infant, asking that he watch as she breast-fed her baby, Egurbide said. At a layover stop, he grabbed one girl’s breasts and pushed his body against another girl before she was able to fend him off.

As the girls left the bus in Reseda, Smythe insisted that one of the girls take a bus transfer ticket and wrote his nickname, “Big Papa,” and telephone number on it, Egurbide said.

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Later that afternoon, Smythe groped the leg of a 26-year-old Northridge woman who was seated behind him. When she left the bus at Cal State Northridge, he followed her, grabbed her breast and licked her ear before he got back on the bus and drove away, Egurbide said.

Prosecutors entered into evidence a 1993 MTA investigation of a complaint filed by a 26-year-old Chatsworth woman who said Smythe groped her while she was a passenger on his bus in the San Fernando Valley. Although the investigation was forwarded to the Los Angeles Police Department, there was not enough evidence to prosecute Smythe, Egurbide said.


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