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Former Bus Driver Sentenced for On-Duty Sexual Battery

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A former Metropolitan Transit 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, said Deputy City Atty. Jose Egurbide.

“Wherever he goes, wherever he moves to, he has to register as a sex offender,” he said.

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

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Defense attorney Sharon Morris said her client will appeal the conviction and was expected to post $50,000 bail Thursday.

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

The charges stemmed from two separate incidents on Nov. 25, 1997. He has been terminated by the MTA, Egurbide said.

About 1:30 p.m., two 17-year-old girls and a 20-year-old woman boarded Smythe’s bus in Granada Hills. Smythe made crude comments to one of the girls who was carrying an infant, asking to watch as she breast-fed her baby, Egurbide said. At a bus stop layover, he grabbed one girl’s breasts and pushed his body against another before she was able to fend him off.

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

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. Though the investigation was forwarded to the Los Angeles Police Department, there was not enough evidence to prosecute Smythe, Egurbide said.


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