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In School Bus Fight, Driver Won't Be Charged

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 06, 2013 10:56 AM

A Florida bus driver will not face criminal charges for a brutal school bus fight, caught on cell phone video, that left a bullied boy with a broken arm.

John Moody, 64, was driving students home from summer school July 9 when three 15-year-old boys on his bus attacked a 13-year-old boy, stomping on him 23 times and breaking his arm. One of the attackers also stole the boy's money, reports The Associated Press.

Moody never intervened in the fight. So why didn't he face a child neglect charge, which authorities initially said they would pursue?

Child Neglect

Generally, child neglect is broadly defined as any act (or failure to act) that:

  • Results in imminent risk or serious harm to a child's health and welfare due to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse;
  • Affects a child (typically under the age of 18); and
  • Involves a parent or caregiver who is responsible for the child's welfare.

In most states, the harm must have been inflicted by non-accidental means. This includes intentional acts, actions that were careless, and acts of negligence (like leaving a young kid home alone).

In the case of the school bus fight, prosecutors were deciding whether to prosecute the bus driver for child neglect for failing to properly aid the 13-year-old victim, according to Tampa Bay's WTSP-TV.

Notably, in a separate incident in 2005, Moody had received a written reprimand for "Failure to follow appropriate procedure and take necessary action to handle a fight on the bus," according to WTSP.

School District Policy

Ultimately, however, prosecutors opted to not to prosecute Moody over the school bus fight in July because he followed school policy.

Though he didn't try to directly stop the fight, he did stop the bus and radio for help, which was in accordance with school district policy, reports the AP.

District officials said drivers should take "reasonable measures" necessary to separate students to preserve safety and prevent injury, according to WTSP. But in a very violent situation like this, prosecutors determined it was reasonable for him to call for help rather than enter the fray.

The alleged teen attackers, on the other hand, were arrested on aggravated battery charges.

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