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UPDATE: Former Bus Driver Pleads Guilty to Sexting with 12-Year-Old

By: Jeremy Edwards, Anna Baxter, Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Jeremy Edwards, Anna Baxter, Brooks Jarosz Email

UPDATE 3/11/13 @ 11:40 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A school bus driver admitted to sexting with a 12 year old girl and now the victim is speaking out.

During a hearing Monday, Samuel Burkhamer pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse.

Burkhamer, who was a substitute school bus driver in Kanawha County, admitted to not only sending inappropriate text messages to the young girl, but also searching for child porn on his computer.

The victim in the case, didn't want to be identified, but she tells WSAZ.com she can now get on with her life.

"Since he was arrested I feel like there has been a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. I now have a sense of freedom and security," the sexual abuse victim said.

During Monday's hearing, Burkhamer was also sentenced to five to 25 years in prison. After serving that sentence, Burkhamer will be on probation for another 25 years.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Kanawha County Schools bus driver is off the job and behind bars after he confessed to sexting with a young girl and viewing child porn.

After an investigation, Samuel Larry Burkhamer, 37, of Elkview, was picked up Wednesday afternoon at the Elkview Kanawha Bus Garage and was later arrested.

According to the complaint, Burkhamer exchanged cell phone numbers with a 12-year-old girl and began sending inappropriate and sexual text messages. Police say the sexting occurred between April and July 5, 2012.

Burkhamer admitted to police that he sent the victim text messages asking her to meet up with him and perform sexual acts, according to the complaint.

Burkhamer told officers he knew the girl.

According to the complaint, Burkhamer confessed that he has "conducted web searches that may contain child erotica, as well as child pornography."

Burkhamer has since signed a consent for police to seize and search multiple cellphones and computers he owned.

"It breaks your heart to see that there are people out there willing to take advantage of children and harm them," Sergeant Michael Baylous said. "Our youth are one of the most important investments we can make in our state and in our country. It's very clear to me that our moral fabric has eroded somewhat within our country."

Burkhamer was charged with soliciting a minor.

Kanawha County School Board President Pete Thaw tells WSAZ.com Burkhamer is no longer an employee of the county school system.

"This was a terrible mistake obviously for this man to ever be hired. We have made very few of these mistakes but we can't make any," Pete Thaw, Kanawha County School Board President said. "This will not be repeated...this is an outrage, this is a terrible thing. I've been on the board for 14 years...this is the worst incident that I can remember."

Burkhamer was a substitute bus driver.

Thaw says the county will not have Burkhamer in a position where he is driving around children. Thaw says Burkhamer is where he belongs and the county took immediate action.

"I don't know how he slipped through...I just don't know how he slipped through," Thaw said. "I want the public to have confidence that we are totally outraged by this."

Burkhamer remains in jail in lieu of a $10,000 cash-only bond. He declined our request for comment from jail.

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