PITTSBURGH - A 71-year-old McKees Rocks man is accused of inappropriately touching a teenage girl while in a school van outside The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh, police said.
Lavelle Tucker is charged with indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.
According to a criminal complaint, a woman told police she was walking her dog on nearby Denniston Street just before 9 a.m. when she saw Tucker with his hand inside the pants of the 17-year-old girl.
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The witness told police that she banged on the window of the van, at which point Tucker, the driver, removed his hand from the girl’s pants, the complaint said.
Police said the teenager, who is diagnosed with cri du chat syndrome, is mostly non-verbal.
A spokesperson for The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh released the following statement:
“The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh’s first priority is to protect the rights, health and well-being of our patients, clients, and students. The incident that was reported on December 19th occurred on an adjacent city street and involved an employee of a transportation company contracted by a local school district. We, as an organization, take all reports and allegations seriously and this incident is being investigated by Pittsburgh Police.”
Channel 11 went to Tucker's home to get his side of the story, but his family didn't know he'd been arrested. Neighbors were equally shocked.
“If he supposedly could do that to a child who can't defend herself, what's to say he won't do that to one of us here?" said one neighbor.
The victim and her family live in Pittsburgh, so it is the responsibility of Pittsburgh Public Schools to bus her to The Children's Institute.
Tucker passed several background checks, including the state and FBI, when he was hired by Professional Limousine Services, which contracts with Pittsburgh Public Schools to provide transportation. And 11 Investigates found no prior criminal record for Tucker.
Professional Limousine Services did not return messages left for comment.
Channel 11 also learned there was no camera inside the transport van.
“There's cameras on buses supposedly, but shouldn't there be a monitor on the bus?” Tucker's neighbor asked.
Last December, the Pittsburgh school board voted to buy and install cameras for all vehicles that can carry 36 or more students. But the van Tucker was driving did not meet that threshold.
Tucker remains in the Allegheny County Jail, according to court records, unable to post bail. He's scheduled to be in court before New Year's.
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