School Board police in Palm Beach County, Fla., have arrested a school bus driver for lewd and lascivious conduct. According to police, Oral Pryce, 41, is accused of making sexual comments on Sept. 15 to a teen girl, 15, who was a regular rider on his bus.
The probable cause affidavit filed alleges that Pryce, who has been employed by the school district for four years, and the girl were friendly with each other. He would send text messages asking if the girl would be taking the bus. If so, he would deviate from his assigned school bus route in order to pick her up in front of her house. They also routinely shared breakfast and talked about “problematic students.”
According to the girl, she was the only rider on Pryce’s bus on Monday when he bypassed a student waiting for the bus at a designated stop before parking and turning off the bus. The affidavit states that Pryce asked the girl if she would replace his wife. He told the girl that he liked her for being “secretive” and offered to give her his bank card. The teen told police that Pryce then reminded her that she was the “last person that rides my bus. I’ll drive away with you and rape you.” He then asked her to have sex with him, saying “I will hold you down,” and threatened to kill her if she told anybody.
The conversation scared the girl to the point where it caused her to panic and to sweat, according to police. She began to send text messages to her stepfather and to a friend. After telling Pryce that she would be late to school, he eventually resumed his route and dropped her off for class. Once there, she notified school workers and asked them to contact her mother so that she could pick her up right away.
When she did not take the school bus home that afternoon, Pryce called the girl and sent a text asking why she was not on the bus. He made additional sexual statements, asking the girl to send him lewd pictures of herself, and threatened her again. This time, because of her earlier encounter with Pryce that same day, the girl recorded the communications.
The Palm Beach County school board said that upon being told of the allegations against Pryce, the school police were notified and the bus driver was restricted from having contact with children. They investigated the report and arrested Pryce on Thursday.
During their investigation, Pryce told police that he did leave his scheduled route in order to pick up the girl. He also admitted that he had parked the bus in order to talk with her, but he denied having made any sexual comments to her. He explained that the reason he had reached out to the girl in the evening was to see if she was feeling okay. He also mentioned to police that children had made these sort of accusations against him in the past, but no proof had ever been provided, adding that children were liars.
Pryce was booked in the Palm Beach County Jail by police. His bail has been set at $75,000.
By Jennifer Pfalz