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Bus driver found guilty of 19 counts in sex abuse case, acquitted on another 14 counts


SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah jury has delivered a mixed verdict in the case of a former Draper bus driver accused of sexually abusing two 5-year-old special needs students, finding him guilty of 19 of the counts but acquitting him of another 14 charges.

John Martin Carrell, 62, faces up to life in prison after the verdict was read Thursday following 16 hours of deliberation over two days. Prosecutors say Carrell abused the two girls repeatedly as he unbuckled them or sat with them in the driver's seat.

Prosecutors showed surveillance camera footage of Carrell with the girls that they said documents the abuse, and one of the victims in the case testified that he had touched her inappropriately.

Carrell maintained his innocence, testifying during the trial that he was friendly with the girls but never abused them.

He got upset on the stand when asked about whether he had abused the girls. "No, I did not, never," he said during testimony earlier this week.

His attorney, Ron Yengich, said during closing arguments that the videos don't show evidence of abuse and well-intentioned adults misinterpreted what the girls said.

Carrell, a grandfather, stayed calm as the verdict was delivered, though others in the courtroom wept as it was read. Yengich said Carrell is disappointed but respects the outcome.

Prosecutor Nathan Evershed said the jury meticulously weighed each of the 33 counts of aggravated sexual abuse filed against Carrell and combined the testimony with the video footage when they reached the verdicts.

"The jury saw a pattern," he said. "I think it's pretty clear when you combine the testimony to the surveillance video as to what happened."

Family members of Carrell and the victims declined to comment to the media after the verdict.

Carrell resigned from the Canyons School District after allegations surfaced last spring. The district reworked its policy to have parents buckle and unbuckle their children, or sign permission for another person or the driver to do so.

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