Bus driver charged with inappropriately texting student

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Butler County Schools bus driver was arrested Tuesday for exchanging inappropriate texts with a 15-year-old student.

Leo Bowen, 29, of Greenville, was charged with one count of a school employee having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19, which is a felony. He was released Tuesday on $3,000 bond.

Butler County School superintended John Strycker declined to comment.

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Though the exact nature of the conversation via text wasn’t revealed, Greenville Police Chief Justin Lovvorn said the term “sexting” would be an accurate description of the exchange between the bus driver and the student.

“It was one or two texts, and that was pretty much it, though he was pretty blatant in the texts,” Lovvorn said.

The texts came to light on Sept. 25, when Greenville Police received a report from a school employee of potentially inappropriate conversation or contact between another employee and a student.

“Basically, a teacher had been talking to this student and it kind of came up in casual conversation,” Lovvorn said. Though specific details were not shared, Lovvorn said the teacher “picked up on enough to know that there may be an issue there.”

Authorities contacted the student for a forensic interview and conducted an analysis of both cell phones. Lovvorn said that Bowen’s phone is still being analyzed to ensure there are no prior conversations with the student or anyone else.

“We’ve had no reason to believe there were any other issues with other students,” Lovvorn said. “This seems to have been caught on the front end of something that was just developing.

“But we’re not going to just drop it at that because that’s the way it looks. We’re still waiting on the rest of his information from his cell phone to be downloaded and turned over to us so we can go through that. And we’re interviewing other people who were associated with him just to make sure they don’t know of anything else that we need to know.”

Bowen, who was immediately suspended following the incident, has been an employee of the Butler County School System for nearly a year, according to Lovvorn.

If convicted, Bowen could face probation or prison time and would be required to register as a sexual offender in Alabama, Lovvorn said.

Lovvorn said that the incident underscores the importance of an open line of communication between parents and their children.

“We encourage parents to talk to their kids and let them know that it’s OK to tell other people that they’re uncomfortable about something,” Lovvorn said.

“Let them know that if something makes them the least bit uncomfortable that they need to pass the information along and not just hold it in and worry about creating an issue. They need to let their parent or a staff member at the school know so we can make sure it’s not something that will get them hurt in the end, or worse.”