Categories: Schenectady County
The arrest of a school bus driver in Saratoga Springs has triggered an investigation in this city, where 35-year-old Douglas Conrad used to live.
Mechanicville police are revisiting allegations made in 2002 by two children who stayed at the home day care of Conrad’s aunt, and also looking into unrelated possible abuse in the last 18 months, Mechanicville Police Chief Joseph Waldron said.
At the time in 2002, authorities couldn’t press charges because there was no physical evidence indicating Conrad exposed himself to a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old whose family came forward.
“Unfortunately in these cases, you have to rely on a lot of physical evidence instead of witness testimony, because you’re talking about 4- and 6-year-olds,” Waldron said, adding that Conrad cooperated “up to a certain point” in that investigation.
Conrad was charged on Wednesday with four counts of misdemeanor forcible touching of teenage boys at his home in Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga Springs police said he touched the genitals and buttocks of two 14-year-old boys last year at his apartment.
Conrad is free on bail. He has been placed on paid administrative leave from his job as a bus driver for the Saratoga Springs City School District pending an internal investigation by the school district.
So far, police said, none of the allegations stem from Conrad’s time at work.
The Saratoga Springs investigation has led to additional allegations of possible sexual abuse in Mechanicville during 2006 and 2007, Waldron said.
Mechanicville police are looking into those allegations to determine whether enough evidence exists to press charges, Waldron said. Investigators are asking other potential victims to come forward.
Waldron said Conrad worked at one time at the Mechanicville Area Community Center, where he would have had contact with children.
Conrad lived on Jefferson Street in Saratoga Springs from 1997 to 2000 before moving to Mechanicville with his aunt at 19 Saratoga Ave., Waldron said. He also lived at another address in the city before moving back to Saratoga Springs sometime in the last several years.
Conrad was living with his aunt when the parents of the young children went to authorities, Waldron said.
The statute of limitations has likely passed on filing an exposure charge from 2002, Waldron said, but investigators will interview the boys to learn whether there was any contact.
“What we want to do is speak with the kids again and make sure that besides the exposure there was no physical contact,” he said. “If the children come forward like that, we want to encourage them and we want to support them.”
One of the boy’s parents claims there was physical contact.
Friday, the parents of the 6-year-old boy, who aren’t being identified to maintain their child’s anonymity, said the boy told them Conrad made him touch Conrad during the exposure. The boy is now 12.
The parents claim they spent $20,000 in Saratoga County Family Court obtaining a protection order against Conrad, whom they didn’t know before their son made the allegations. A letter from Saratoga County Department of Social Services dating from May 2002 notes Conrad is “indicated,” meaning some credible evidence was found to determine that the children were sexually abused, according to an accompanying letter.
The boy’s father is angry that Conrad was allowed to be around children after authorities knew about the allegations against him.
“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” the father said. “I think the parents should know that the county knew about it.”
The parents said their son has been through therapy for years and will probably face more due to the recent charge and surrounding publicity that will likely prompt painful memories.
“Their son asked them today: ‘If they believed me six years ago, would those kids have gotten harmed?’ ” said John Aretakis, a lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse cases and is representing the couple.