Bus driver pleads guilty to sex exploitation of children in Maine, NH

By Samantha Allen, Foster's Daily Democrat
Posted Sept. 12, 2012, at 5:33 a.m.

MILTON, N.H. — Milton bus driver John Allen Wright pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to six counts of sexual exploitation after being accused of sexually assaulting disabled children and then recording and distributing images of those acts.

Wright, 46, was arrested on Sept. 1, 2011, following a seven-month investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force into his felonious activity. The task force works to identify suspects trading and possessing images of child pornography through online file sharing networks.

The investigation, which began in February 2011, then led to a search warrant for Wright’s home, where computers and peripherals were seized which reportedly contained thousands of graphic assault images.

An investigation concluded Wright used hidden cameras in pens and sunglasses to record students aboard his bus, while he was sexually assaulting them. These activities also occurred when he was transporting children for Provider Services.

Among the files, investigators found several videos depicting Wright sexually assaulting three young disabled boys who were passengers aboard his school bus, operated by Provider Bus Services.

Wright had been a bus driver to families with special needs children in Kittery, Maine, before his arrest. He was charged in September of that year with three counts of felonious sexual assault against the unidentified victims, who reportedly live in both New Hampshire and Maine, as well as approximately 20 other counts, including indecent exposure and lewdness.

Wright now awaits the issuing of a sentence, scheduled for Dec. 20, out of U.S. District Court in Concord. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Wright faces a minimum mandatory prison term of 15 years on each of five counts from the original indictment for six counts of sexual exploitation, and a total maximum prison term of 160 years.

However, with Wright still facing charges against him for the assault of three local boys, Strafford County Attorney Tom Velardi told Foster’s Wright has a scheduled status conference in Dover on Oct. 1 for those crimes as well.

“Honestly — I’ll be glad if this one gets put to bed in a fair manner. This is some of the worst materials I have come across in my 13-plus career of prosecuting,” Velardi said. “It’s bad. I hope we’ll get the closure for the families relatively soon.”

Velardi said his office has already offered a plea bargain with “substantial numbers” for Wright’s imprisonment.

“I can’t get into specific numbers — if the federal case includes numbers like the ones we’ve offered on the state level, it is possible to resolve these cases without a state trial,” he said. “It really comes down to what the sense of security is when you’re in the community. Generally, for families who go through the trauma of having a loved one abused, the sentence we (will) always discuss with the families.”

Velardi added the sentencing considered by his office would “preclude Mr. Wright from being a part of general society for his lifetime.”

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas could not be reached for comment before press time and Wright’s defense attorney, Harry Starbranch, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Starbranch originally requested a suppression hearing for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, seeking to throw out some of the prosecution’s evidence he claimed was illegally obtained, but an entry of a guilty plea came forward, with a final pretrial status conference scheduled for 3:45 p.m. later that day.

(c)2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

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http://bangordailynews.com/2012/09/12/news/bus-driver-pleads-guilty-to-sex-exploitation-of-children-in-maine-nh/ printed on November 28, 2014