Children run around and play on Friday, safe inside the fence surrounding Fairview Elementary school playground. They, unlike their parents, are unaware that a Fairview bus driver was arrested earlier that week, disturbing this safe environment.
The Bloomington Police Department arrested 43-year-old Timothy Poteat, the driver of bus 44, on Oct. 21 on charges of child exploitation and child molesting.
BPD is encouraging anyone who has children on that bus to contact the police about anything unusual.
One parent, Elke Acosta, expressed her disbelief as she picked her son up from school. Acosta said she prefers to pick her children up to avoid issues like bullying, but now she has another reason.
“It’s crazy,” Acosta said. “You don’t know what he did on that bus.”
Poteat was originally arrested Oct. 18 after he finished his bus route. Police began an investigation Oct. 11 after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stating child pornography was being accessed from a specific IP address. BPD then traced the IP address, the electronic signature of the images, to Poteat’s house.
BPD searched Poteat’s home and found six phones, two computers and seven external hard drives. BPD Lt. Brad Seifers said they are still reviewing all of it for evidence.
The day after Poteat was taken into custody, another report came indicating that Poteat had attempted to take photos of two sisters, ages 8 and 7, as they rode his bus.
Poteat was originally released on bail from the first arrest but was then taken back into custody without the option of bond and was arrested a second time on charges of child molestation.
The charges were added once pornographic photos and video were discovered on Poteat’s computer. BPD Lt. John Kovach said video and photo footage involving at least two girls younger than 14, were found on Poteat’s computer.
Poteat’s ex-wife identified one of the juvenile girls as her daughter based on the photos, but she told police she did not believe the video was of her own daughter.
Kovach said the photos and video showed the two girls and various sex objects which Poteat used to sexually assault them.
Acosta said she did not understand the whole situation and how a school bus driver could do all these things. She said her plans to pick up her children each day have been reinforced after Poteat’s recent arrest.
“You don’t know a person just because they drive a bus,” Acosta said.
Andrew Clampitt, the public information officer for Monroe County Community School Corporation, said the school system is saddened by the news but is determined to maintain the safety of children.
“The safety and security of our children,” Clampitt said. “That’s our first priority.”
Every MCCSC employee goes through a background check, Clampitt said. Requirements for MCCSC bus drivers include being at least 21 years old, having a good driving record and undergoing periodic drug testing, according to job postings on the MCCSC website.
“We run a background check on everyone, even me,” Clampitt said.
Poteat’s criminal record includes seven separate traffic incidents, five of those involving speeding or failing to stop. These incidents go from April 2015 to as far back as March 1998. Poteat was hired as a bus driver trainee in January 2015 and underwent a background check at the time.
Clampitt said he was unable to comment on what exactly was found in Poteat’s file as it was currently being used in the investigation.
Clampitt said MCCSC has replaced Poteat and is working with BPD during the investigation, according to the press release.
Acosta said the charges against Poteat just reinforce her belief that her children are safer if she takes them home each day.
“You can’t protect them on a bus,” Acosta said. “I don’t know what goes on.”
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