Kamloops judge to rule on school-bus driver's relationship with teen
The fate of a former Kamloops school-bus driver’s relationship with a teenaged girl he met on his bus route — a relationship that cost the 59-year-old his job — is now in the hands of a judge.
Evidence and submissions wrapped up on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in Kamloops provincial court for Merv Hanson, the ex-bus driver, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the girl, now 16, whose name KTW has chosen not to publish.
Hanson was fired in March after a three-pronged investigation by the Kamloops-Thompson school district, the Kamloops RCMP and ministry social workers.
The girl, who was 15 at the time, ran away from home earlier this year and, for a time, moved in with Hanson — from whom she'd already been receiving music lessons.
Hanson eventually agreed to stop spending time with the girl.
However, after they had further contact, court heard, he was placed on an order by social workers to stay away from her.
He’s been fighting that order in court for more than two months.
In court this week, Hanson and ministry lawyer Tom Weiss were at times yelling at each other during cross-examination.
Hanson took exception to much of what the ministry entered as evidence throughout the three days of hearings, stretching back to June.
Court heard about dysfunctional relationships in Hanson’s past, prior ministry involvement in his family life and a serious criminal allegation levelled against him by his 17-year-old stepdaughter in 2009.
The girl told police Hanson attempted to sexually assault her as she slept. She said she woke up and fought him off.
Both were left with injuries — the stepdaughter with bumps and bruises and Hanson with a cut lip.
The stepdaughter later moved away from Kamloops and the police investigation stopped.
During cross-examination, Weiss pressed Hanson on “the optics” of his relationship with the girl from his bus route.
“Do you understand how all of this is being perceived around you?” the lawyer asked.
“Yeah,” Hanson replied. “It’s sad the way they view it.”
“The optics of this situation are unsettling, would you agree?” Weiss asked.
“Yeah,” Hanson replied. “For some twisted people.”
Hanson has not been charged criminally for anything relating to his relationship with the teen.
However, court has previously heard he is under investigation by police in Ontario for the alleged harassment of a girl who used to ride on his Kamloops bus, but later moved east.
In his closing submission, Hanson said he’s not the bad guy the ministry has made him out to be.
“I can sympathize with the parents — I can understand what they think they lost,” he said, turning to look at the girl’s family seated in the courtroom gallery.
“But, I never took it away from them. You people brought this on yourself.”
The girl remains in foster care, refusing to return home.
Kamloops provincial court Judge Stephen Harrison said he will need 30 to 60 days before handing down a decision.
A date has yet to be set.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Hanson stood and asked the judge if the interim order could be removed pending his decision.
Harrison denied the request.