School Bus Driver Arrested in Child Porn Bust

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office arrested Springdale school bus driver George O’Dea on Tuesday (Feb. 12) in a child pornography investigation, Sheriff Kelley Cradduck said.

The 65-year-old driver was placed on paid administrative leave last week when the district learned an investigation was under way, said Rick Schaeffer, Springdale Public Schools spokesman.

The school district has not determined whether O’Dea will be fired from his job, Schaeffer said. That determination will be made after the investigation is complete, he said.

O’Dea’s routes included Monitor Elementary School, Sonora Middle School and Springdale High School, Schaeffer said.

O’Dea has been employed by the district for three years, Schaeffer said. He earns an annual salary of between $11,233 and $13,301, according to the school district website.

The arrest was made about 2 p.m. at O’Dea’s home at 3407 East Dr. in Rogers.

Deputies uncovered 500 images of child pornography on computers at the house, Cradduck said.

O’Dea’s wife, Linda, told 5NEWS she also is a bus driver in the Springdale school district. She has been a driver for about two months, Schaeffer said.

At the time of the arrest, she said she did not know why O’Dea was being taken into custody.

“My husband is the most honest man I`ve ever known in my life, and I can`t fathom this going on right now,” she said.

The arrest was the result of an investigation into child pornography begun Jan. 15 by the sheriff’s Cyber Crimes Unit, Cradduck said.

O’Dea was booked into the Benton County Jail Tuesday afternoon and is awaiting a bond hearing.

Cradduck said the investigation was accelerated because the suspect frequently was around children. In addition to his job, he played Santa Claus during the holiday season, Cradduck said. The sheriff said it is unclear where O’Dea worked as a Santa Claus.

“When we learned that he was around children on a daily basis, he knew their names, he knew where they lived, he was in a position of trust, he played Santa Claus this year … (so) we felt like it was time to really amp up the case and move it along as fast as we could,” Cradduck said.

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