B.C. bus driver wrongly accused of sexual assault

A school bus driver in Clearwater, B.C., has been vindicated after he was wrongly accused of sexually touching a teenage girl.

Teenage girl admitted in court she planned to set up driver

A school bus driver in Clearwater, B.C., has been vindicated after he was wrongly accused of sexually touching a teenage girl.

William Dowds was charged in April with sexual exploitation after a 17-year-old female student on his bus accused him of sexually touching her.

This week, a provincial court judge acquitted him, after the girl admitted in court she planned to set Dowds up, said defence lawyer Jeremy Jensen.

"The turning point in the trial came when there was some evidence put towards the complainant that there was a degree of premeditation to the whole getting Mr. Dowds to do something inappropriate," he said.

"Once that happened the complainant's credibility seemed to fall apart. Subsequently the complainant's friend gave evidence and that credibility was seriously questioned, " said Jensen.

"They were trying to trap him. Their intentions for trapping him were stated quite simply: 'to see what he would do'," he said.

Jensen says his client is elated to have been acquitted.

"You could see the stress and strain on him and his wife was enormous."

School bus driver wants job back

The Kamloops-Thompson School District suspended Dowds with pay when the allegations first came to light in early 2011. When the charges were laid in April his pay was also suspended, said school district superintendant Terry Sullivan.

Jensen says Dowds was forced to drive a logging truck to support his family. Two weeks ago, he suffered a broken pelvis when he was pinned between a truck and a trailer.

The school district is waiting for the results of its own independent investigation into the allegations made by the teen, said Sullivan.

Though the courts cleared Dowds of sexual exploitation, there's no guarantee the bus driver will get his job back, said Sullivan. The school district will look at if there was any misconduct on Dowds part, and the burden of proof will be different.

"The test in the criminal proceeding is beyond any reasonable doubt. You have to be found guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. That's a much higher test than administrative law which the test is on the balance of probabilities ... is it likely that this individual committed this act or is it more likely that he did not?" said Sullivan.

Sullivan said he expects the report to be delivered to him next week.

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan