The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office threw out a child sex crime case made against a school bus driver contracted for Coppell ISD.
Although the details of the case have not been disclosed due to privacy laws, the Dallas County DA rejected the case, accusing Paul Russo, a former bus driver, of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The charge stemmed from this May, and the alleged victim was a Coppell ISD student.
In Texas, aggravated sexual assault of a child involves intentional contact or penetration of the anus or sex organ.
In response to the allegations, Durham Transportation Services, the company Russo worked for that had held a contract with Coppell ISD at the time, promptly placed him on leave. The employer later decided to terminate him altogether.
Russo was arrested by Dallas County Sheriff’s Office deputies on May 22 but was quickly released after posting the bond set at $50,000.
The reasons behind the DA’s decision remain undisclosed and Coppell ISD has opted not to comment.
At the time when the accusations against Russo first emerged, Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt addressed a letter to parents saying that he joined them “in being deeply outraged, disturbed and extremely disappointed about these allegations, as we take very seriously any alleged violation of the professional and ethical conduct we expect of Durham bus drivers,” according to WFAA.
In child sexual assault cases, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. However, Texas has the “one witness” rule by which the testimony of a victim or a witness alone may suffice for a conviction.
Several educators and other staff coming into close contact with children have been accused of child sex crimes or related offenses in North Texas lately.
As covered in The Dallas Express, last month Channing Elizabeth Kula, 36, a former junior high teacher in Brock ISD, was arrested over allegations that she had an inappropriate relationship with a student.
A few weeks later, Charles “Chuck” Ray Brandon, 65, a former coach and teacher in Richardson ISD, was arrested for allegedly possessing child pornography.
In Dallas, overall sexual offense crimes have remained high throughout 2023. There have been 638 cases reported this year as of November 1, according to the Dallas crime analytics overview dashboard. The median age of the alleged victims of these crimes is 16 years old, while two toddlers were logged as the youngest and a 73-year-old individual as the eldest.