SALT LAKE CITY — A former school bus driver for the Canyons School District made his first appearance in court Wednesday to face charges accusing him of abusing a 5-year-old disabled girl on his route.

John Martin Carrell, 61, of Draper, is charged with 23 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony. He is accused of abusing a young girl with special needs whom he drove to and from Altara Elementary School in Sandy since the beginning of the school year.

Dressed in a yellow Salt Lake County Jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled, Carrell's appearance in court lasted less than two minutes. He identified himself for the judge, waived a reading of the charges against him, and the judge fulfilled a request to have the case moved to West Jordan's 3rd District Court.

Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Richard Mauro said it is premature for the public to reach any conclusions about the case.

"He's maintaining his innocence. At this point we'll be looking at evidence, evaluating evidence, testing it in a courtroom. Right now there are allegations, there's a presumption of innocence that attaches to everybody, including Mr. Carrell. And I would hope everybody would keep that in mind until we hear evidence in a courtroom," he said.

Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Nathan Evershed said an investigation to determine if there are additional victims is still ongoing.

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As for the case against Carrell, he said the video evidence "speaks for itself."

Prosecutors went through three months of surveillance video recorded from Carrell's bus. Investigators believe the video shows that between Feb. 20 and April 22, Carrell sexually abused the young girl after he had pulled into the parking lot of the elementary school and before teachers came on to help the students off the bus.

Bail for Carrell was set at $3 million. His next court date is scheduled for July 3.


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