Former school-bus driver ordered to stay away from teen girl
A former Kamloops school-bus driver who was fired earlier this year after developing a "particularly close relationship" with a teen on his route will have to stay at least 50 metres away from the girl at all times, a judge has ruled.
Merv Hanson lost his appeal of an interim order — called a protective intervention order — placed on him by social workers with the Ministry of Children and Family Development in May, two months after he was fired by the Kamloops-Thompson school district.
Kamloops provincial court Judge Stephen Harrison tossed Hanson's appeal during a 30-minute hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Hanson, 60, was ordered to have no contact with the girl, now 16, and banned from being within 50 metres of her home, school or workplace.
During a series of hearings dating back to June, court heard Hanson and the girl developed a relationship last fall. At the time, she was a passenger on his bus route.
Hanson claimed to have been trying to help the girl by listening to her problems and offering free music lessons — sessions in his North Kamloops home that would last as long as 10 hours.
However, the girl's parents claimed Hanson was actually driving a wedge between them and their daughter.
The girl was eventually placed in foster care, but ran away for a time and stayed with Hanson.
"Mr. Hanson has a grandiose view of his own abilities and his proficiency in counselling, thought he has no training and all the wrong life experience," Harrison said in reading his decision.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that ongoing contact with [the girl] and Mr. Hanson would endanger her well-being."
Court heard evidence from social workers about Hanson's troubled past, including multiple run-ins with police and ministry officials dating back to the 1990s.
Hanson was never charged criminally, but Harrison said the unproven allegations suggest he may not be suited to counselling kids.
Harrison also mentioned other incidents with students on Hanson's bus route, including a group of teens he invited camping and a girl with whom he carried on a prolonged online relationship, even after she moved out of province.
"It's remarkable in its reflection of Mr. Hanson's lack of understanding of boundaries," the judge said, referencing a 39-page Facebook transcript containing private messages between Hanson and a teen he used to drive to school — a conversation the ministry's lawyer described as "an example of grooming."
Court has previously heard out-of-province police are investigating Hanson for harassment in relation to the Facebook messages.
Throughout the hearings, Hanson claimed ministry social workers were lying in their accusations about his past — a notion Harrison called "a bald say-so."
The order against Hanson will last six months.