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School Bus Driver Arrested In Child Porn Case Pleads Not Guilty

The Springdale school bus driver accused of possessing child pornographer pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday in Benton County. George O’Dea, 65, pleaded n...
odea mugshot

The Springdale school bus driver accused of possessing child pornographer pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday in Benton County.

George O’Dea, 65, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of possession of child pornographer at his arraignment in Benton County Circuit Court, county authorities said.

O’Dea’s next scheduled court date is April 29.

O’Dea was arrested Feb. 12 and posted a $50,000 bond two days later in Benton County Jail.

The Springdale bus driver arrested in the child pornography case told detectives he accidentally downloaded material of children having sex, according to an arrest warrant affidavit from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were able to trace the IP address of O’Dea’s home computer from child pornography downloads online, the affidavit states. Deputies subpoenaed AT&T for the information.

When deputies carried out a search warrant last week on O’Dea’s home, the suspect told a detective he downloaded the child pornography, but deleted it as soon as he located it, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

O’Dea was placed on paid administrative leave from his job as a bus driver for the Springdale School District when administrators were notified of the child pornography investigation into O’Dea, said Rick Schaeffer, a spokesperson for Springdale Public Schools.

O’Dea told detectives he downloaded pornography every day, and would often download up to 200 pornography files at a time, according to the affidavit.

“He stated he did not know who he was downloading from as he just searched by key words,” the affidavit states. “He admitted to downloading child pornography, but stated he did not do it intentionally, but that it was just lumped in with all the other downloads.”

The school district has not determined whether O’Dea will be fired from his job, Schaeffer said last month. 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, said Benton County Sheriff Kelly Cradduck.

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.

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.