ELIZABETHTOWN, Lancaster County — A 53-year-old Mount Joy Township man has been charged with institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and other offenses after police say he had inappropriate contact with a student while employed as a school bus driver for the Elizabethtown Area School District.
In addition to the above charges, which are both felonies, Vito Anton Giannattasio is also charged with a felony count of corruption of minors and two misdemeanor counts of indecent assault of a person with a mental disability, according to court documents.
Elizabethtown Police say they began investigating Giannattasio on Nov. 1, when the resource officer at Elizabethtown Middle School was notified of the alleged inappropriate contact. The resource officer then contacted a detective with Elizabethtown Police.
According to police, the school’s counselor said the victim told classmates she had a “tickle game” with her bus driver, in which they would tickle each other while the student was transported from the school to her home.
Giannattasio was employed by Duhram School Services, which is contracted by the school district to provide transportation for students, school officials told police.
Police interviewed the victim on Nov. 5, according to a criminal complaint affidavit. During the interview, the victim told police that Giannattasio rubbed her upper thighs, back, armpits, and breasts, and would also kiss her forehead. The victim said the touching occurred while she was being transported home in a school van. The victim said she would sit next to Giannattasio in the passenger seat, police say.
During the “tickle game,” Giannattasio would let the victim tickle him back, the victim told police. This would involve touching his legs and buttocks, the victim said.
Police spoke to Giannattasio on Nov. 7, and he allegedly admitted to touching the victim and kissing her forehead. Giannattasio allegedly said things “got out of hand,” police say. He also allegedly admitted he allowed the victim to touch his thighs and buttocks, and that this contact had occurred “several times” over the previous two weeks, according to the criminal complaint.
The Elizabethtown Area School District issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
This afternoon, the Elizabethtown Area School District was made aware that charges would be filed against a Durham School Services bus driver. The accused driver transported EASD students to and from school in a 7-passenger van. The District is both saddened and angered by this news, as the District shares everyone’s desire to keep all children safe.
Specific to this incident, in early November, students reported information to an Elizabethtown Area School District faculty member about alleged inappropriate conduct by a Durham School Services bus driver. Upon receiving this information, school administration IMMEDIATELY contacted local law enforcement and the statewide child protective services program know as ChildLine to file reports.
In addition, school officials communicated with Durham School Services leadership, and the accused driver was immediately prohibited from transporting EASD students pending the outcome of the investigation. The Elizabethtown Area School District and Durham School Services fully cooperated with both investigations (law enforcement and ChildLine) and will continue to do so if necessary.
We commend the students who first shared the information, the faculty member who brought the information forward to school administration, and school and District administration for their proper handling of the information. Additionally, we thank our local police department and the district attorney’s office for their swift investigation.
The District contracts with Durham School Services to provide the majority of its school bus service. Per the contract, bus drivers are hired and employed by Durham School Services. ALL bus drivers must submit current clearances to Durham School Services and the District as part of the hiring process. That process was followed in this circumstance.