Victim's mother suing Tulsa Transit

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Updated: 11/08/2012 9:14 am Published: 11/07/2012 7:42 pm

A mother of a woman with cerebral palsy is suing Tulsa Transit.

The mother claims a city bus driver, who was trusted to pick up her daughter to take her to work, violated that trust by inappropriately touching her daughter.

40-year-old DeAngelo Bitson drove for the city's Lift program which helps transport Tulsans with disabilities. He was a contract employee by MV Transportation, that company is also being sued.

In the five page lawsuit, the victim's mother filed saying the companies failed to keep her daughter safe by hiring Bitson.

She says Bitson groped her daughter back in August, on the bus, as he was adjusting her wheelchair strap.
Police say bus surveillance video shows Bitson touching the woman's breast three times.

"I do know disabilities do cause sometimes people to be a little bit more vulnerable," said DVIS Counselor Missy Iski.

She isn’t involved with the case but says people with disabilities rely on other people to protect them.

"It sounds like this person knew that what the man was doing was inappropriate and she did the only thing she could do was talk about it," Iski told FOX23.

She says these incidents can have long term effects on people. The lawsuit claims there was mental and physical pain suffered. It also states Bitson was hired despite having drug and gun convictions on his record and spending time in prison.

"When a person has some capacity to control that it's really trying to assure safe people are around their loved ones as much as possible," Iski said.

The General Manager of Tulsa Transit Bill Cartwright told FOX23 that MV transportation performed the background check, which only goes back ten years. He says Bitson's convictions happened two decades ago. Cartwright says he was unaware of the charges.

Here’s the statement he sent FOX23:

“On August 30, 2012 Tulsa Transit received a report alleging the inappropriate touching of a Lift Program passenger by the bus driver. 

Tulsa Transit contracts the operation of the Lift Program to MV Transportation, a leading national transportation company.  MV Transportation conducts criminal and sex offender background checks on all prospective employees.  Job applicants with convictions of violence or sexual offenses, whether felony or misdemeanor, are not eligible for employment with MV Transportation.

Upon notification of alleged inappropriate behavior, the driver involved in this incident was immediately taken out service by MV Transportation.  He was subsequently terminated. 

The safety and security of Tulsa Transit’s passengers is our number one priority.  We are currently cooperating with the Tulsa Police Department in the investigation of this allegation."

The mother of the victim is suing for 75-thousand dollars for mental and physical pain.

Bitson pleaded not guilty to sexual battery. His preliminary hearing is set for December 3rd.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 11/8/2012 1:03 PM
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Cartwrong must not be the right person for the job. Evidently Cartwrong is just lazy and does not have the intelligence to do a background check on the individuals that he sends out to HELP THE HANDICAPPED. Fire the inept troglodyte and get someone that is more capable and reliable to operate MTTA.
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