Charges: School Van Driver Touched Girl Inappropriately
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 63-year-old man from Morgan, Minn., is accused of touching a 5-year-old girl with special needs inappropriately while he drove her home from school, according to charges filed in Redwood County Court on Tuesday.
Loren Patrick Eisenbarth has been charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in connection with the case. According to a complaint, Redwood County Human Services contact authorities on Jan. 31, 2012, on a report that a man had inappropriately touched a 5-year-old girl who had special needs and problems talking.
Authorities learned the man, later identified as Eisenbarth, was a van driver for the girl’s school and had the nickname “Shorty.”
On Jan. 30, the girl was the last child to be dropped off by the van. The girl went inside her house and told her day care provider that she didn’t feel well. The provider later asked the girl what was wrong and she said Eisenbarth touched her near her around her vaginal area, the complaint states.
After hearing the report, the girl’s father picked her up from day care and asked her if anything happened in the van. The girl said that “Shorty” had touched her and pointed to her vaginal area. Her parents had also noticed significant changes in the girl’s behavior both at home and school, according to the complaint.
The night after the incident, the girl told her mother she was in a lot of pain and pointed to her vaginal area. Her parents contacted the girl’s school and learned that on the van’s route, she is not supposed to be the last person dropped off, according to the complaint.
The next day, Eisenbarth denied to police and the school’s principal that he never touched her, but that he had been driving her home. He was asked why the girl was dropped off last that day, he said he did not follow the schedule he was given because it was easier for him. He said he dropped the girl off at 11:30 or 11:40 at the latest and never touched the girl, but did say she would give him kisses from time to time.
That night, the girl’s mother was tickling her before bed and the girl got mad, telling her to stop and saying “Shorty tickles me,” according to the complaint.
Authorities learned during the investigation that there were other young children in the van who had been involved in similar incidents, including a 4-year-old child.
If convicted on both charges, Eisenbarth faces up to 55 years in prison and $75,000 in fines.