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Kanawha bus driver charged with soliciting a minor

By Staff reports

ELKVIEW, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County Schools bus driver was arrested Wednesday after police say he sent explicit text messages to a 12-year-old girl.

Samuel Larry Burkhamer, 37, of Elkview, was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. at the Elkview bus garage and charged with soliciting a minor via computer, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

State Police say Burkhamer and the girl, who is friends with his 9-year-old stepdaughter, exchanged cellphone numbers on Facebook. The criminal complaint referred to the 9-year-old as his daughter, however, a family member called the Gazette on Wednesday night and said she is Burkhamer's stepdaughter.

He sent text messages to the girl between April and July, the complaint states.

Burkhamer allegedly confessed to police that he told the girl he wanted her to help him masturbate, according to the complaint. Police say in the complaint he also admitted to looking up child pornography on the Internet.

His computers and cellphones were handed over to police. He is being held in the South Central Regional Jail on a $10,000 cash bail.

Burkhamer's public Facebook page says he has worked as a bus driver for Kanawha County Schools since April 2011. George Beckett, director of transportation for the school system, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday night.

Kanawha County school board President Pete Thaw said late Wednesday that the charge against Burkhamer is out of character for a bus driver.

"We have very good bus drivers. We've never had anything like this happen," Thaw said.


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