Jury convicts 19-year-old of sex crimes on school bus

Published 9:23 am Thursday, September 28, 2017

STANFORD – After a day-long trial, a Lincoln County jury has convicted a 19-year-old of multiple counts of criminal and sexual abuse in connection with an incident that occurred on a school bus in March.

Ryan Allen Rayburn appeared in Lincoln County Circuit Court Sept. 18 where a jury delivered a guilty verdict on four felony charges. 

Ryan Allen Rayburn

Following the delivery of the verdict, the Commonwealth and defense agreed to a five-year prison sentence, including a five-year conditional discharge sentence upon Rayburn’s release from incarceration, as well as a lifetime sexual offender registration. Rayburn also waived his right to appeal the case. Lincoln Circuit Judge David A. Tapp will deliver a formal sentence on Dec. 8. 

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Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddie Montgomery released a statement following the trial and agreement and applauded the jury for holding Rayburn “accountable for his actions of jeopardizing the safety of minor children in the Lincoln County School system.” 

Victims testify 

Evidence provided by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Neal Tucker included testimony from Stanford Police Detective Tim Morris, as well as the two minor witnesses, and video surveillance from the school bus. 

While the two minors, ages 11 and 15, both testified that the bus was normally chaotic, with kids goofing off and moving seats, they also testified that the incidents involving Rayburn had never happened before March 16. 

Defense attorney Sarah Bryant argued that the bus, which regularly transports elementary, middle and high school students, was often a chaotic environment and had no bus monitor present at the time of the incident. 

With video surveillance of the school bus, taken from the rear camera, playing in the courtroom, Tucker asked each minor witness questions pertaining to the activity on the bus. 

The video shows the male minor being moved to the back of the bus where Rayburn had previously been sitting before he returned to the seat with a latex glove on one hand. 

The male minor testified that when Rayburn returned to the seat in the back, he held the boy in his lap, reached into the boys’ pants and rubbed his anal area, over the underwear. Rayburn then wiped the glove across the boy’s face and in his mouth. 

The female victim also testified that Rayburn returned to the front of the bus and put on another latex glove before returning to the back of the bus. Rayburn then rubbed his own anal area and then rubbed his hand across her face, according to her testimony. 

Rayburn is also seen at another point during the video holding the female down in a seat while the male minor attempted to pull him off of her. 

“The evidence presented to the jury showed that Ryan Rayburn criminally abused and sexually abused the two minor victims while they were on their way home on the school bus,” states a press release from the Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddie Montgomery. 

The Commonwealth argued that the burden of proof for sexual abuse was met by the video evidence and testimony which proved there was sexual contact, and that sexual gratification was shown when Rayburn stopped to smell the glove after touching his own anal area. 

Tucker also elaborated on the emotional effects that the incident had on each of the minors when they finally left the school bus that day. 

The male minor testified that when he returned home he got under his blankets in his room, had no appetite that evening and did not want to go to school the next day because he was “embarrassed.” 

Tucker asked the female victim what she did when she got home from school. 

“I went home and I washed my face and I puked and I went to my bedroom and just sat there and I cried a little bit,” she said. The witness said she was tested for sexually transmitted diseases following the incident with no positive results returned. 

In closing arguments, the defense argued that what Rayburn did was “gross” and “immature” but not sexual abuse. 

“He’s an immature kid, goofing off, doing immature things on the bus,” Bryant said. “Gross doesn’t mean criminal.” 

Bryant also argued that neither of the minor witnesses alerted the bus driver of the incident. 

Tucker argued that the incident was more than kids goofing off on the school bus. 

“Kids will be kids, yeah, I’ll agree with that,” Tucker said. “But this has never happened before. They testified that this has never happened before.”

At about 7:40 p.m. on the day of the trial, Tapp instructed the jury that the parties had reached an agreement following the return of the verdict. 

“The Commonwealth has agreed to recommend the minimum on, there was one charge which was a Class C felony, punishable by five-to-ten years in the penitentiary and he has agreed to accept the minimum disposition on that charge of five years,” Tapp told jurors. “In addition, the defendant has agreed to accept the maximum on the Class D felonies for which he was found guilty, which are punishable by one-to-five years. In this case, the parties have agreed to run those sentences concurrently, meaning for a total of five years imprisonment.”