News Release #: 17-100 - APRIL 19, 2017
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Sarasota County bus driver for Battery after he made unwanted contact with a 13-year-old Venice Middle School student.
The investigation began on February 13 when the victim reported that her former bus driver, Leonard Villari, DOB 04/09/46, approached her in the school’s cafeteria and began playing with her hair. Villari then entered the lunch line and later winked at the victim and touched her hair and neck a second time. Deputies obtained video surveillance from the cafeteria which corroborated the victim’s story. Additionally, according to the victim, in 2016, Villari commonly called her “baby girl”, and told the victim he knew where she lived and often, that he loved her.
Villari, of 11192 Batello Avenue, Venice, is charged with a single count of Battery. He was released Wednesday on $25,000 bond. According to Sarasota County Schools, if Villari returns to work he will not drive a school bus and will have no contact with students, pending the judicial outcome of the case. He will be assigned duties elsewhere in the Sarasota County School District Transportation Department.