A former Lodi Unified School District bus driver will spend more than 20 years in prison for molesting an 8-year-old special-needs student.
Richard Dale Evans, 59, pleaded guilty in Stockton Superior Court on Wednesday to multiple charges of committing lewd acts on a minor by use of force or fear. He also plead guilty to one count of kidnapping a victim younger than 14, and to two special allegations of sex crimes.
The victim's mother occasionally wiped tears from her eyes and muffled sobs during the 15-minute session. After Evans was led out of court, the mother spoke to the News-Sentinel through an interpreter.
"For a mother, there are not enough years in a sentence for what he did," said Maria, who did not give her last name because the victim is a juvenile. "But I am satisfied with the length of the sentence because he has to be punished for what he did."
Evans was arrested by the Stockton Police Department on Nov. 4, 2010 after the victim informed her parents of the molestation. He has been incarcerated in San Joaquin County Jail since November. He sexually assaulted the girl in October and November aboard a district school bus while serving as an on-call bus driver.
San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kristine Reed previously said that at least one of the incidents was caught on tape. The incidents took place at the start of Evans' shift when he and the victim were the only people on the bus, the district attorney's office said.
Evans was a full-time employee of the district from 2004 to 2007 and operated a driving school in town that closed early in 2010. He is a long-time Lodi resident.
Family and supporters of Evans appeared in court and sat several rows behind him as San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Franklin Stephenson read over the details of the plea. Several of the supporters held their heads and looked in their laps during the proceeding. The four individuals who sat behind Evans on Wednesday declined to comment to the media.
Evans will serve 25 years and four months as part of his plea and will not be eligible for probation until he serves at least 85 percent of the term, but Reed said he won't be released early.
"He's serving the full sentence," she said. "He's getting 25 years and four months."
Evans will be 84 when paroled, and the judge said he would have to register as a sex offender at that time.
He will return in court for official sentencing July 25 at 10 a.m.
After the proceedings, Maria said the family, while devastated, is relieved justice has been served.
"My main point in all of this is to ensure people know that these kinds of things do happen and that people need to stand up for themselves when it does," she said.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.