Cobb school bus driver arrested, accused of assaulting 10-year-old student

The bus driver faces misdemeanor charges of simple assault and simple battery.
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The bus driver faces misdemeanor charges of simple assault and simple battery.

Powder Springs man released shortly after turning himself in

A Cobb County magistrate judge issued an arrest warrant Monday for a school bus driver accused of misdemeanor assault against a 10-year-old student in 2019, an incident that led the boy’s father to hire legal help after he said he became frustrated with the school district’s inaction.

Richard Tebbens, 61, of Powder Springs, turned himself in the same day on misdemeanor charges of simple assault and simple battery, online jail records show. He was released a short time later on his own recognizance. Misdemeanor criminal offenses are prosecuted by the county solicitor general.

The arrest warrant was based on evidence presented by the student’s father, Justan Mosely, and his lawyers in a warrant application hearing May 10. Using witness testimony, including from the child, and video footage from the school bus, Mosely made the case that Tebbens, a bus driver for the Cobb school district, harmed his son by roughly putting him in his seat and cursing at him during a bus ride in November 2019. The warrant also says Tebbens placed his hands on the boy’s head, jerking his face to look forward.

Mosely sought legal help after “fighting for nearly two years for Cobb County School District Officials to hold the driver accountable,” his law firm Davis Bozeman said in a news release. According to the release, Mosely’s son was recommended for therapy after a trauma analysis that followed the incident.

“It took so much for us to get to this point of accountability and I promised my son I would protect him, so it's all been emotional."

- Justan Mosely

It is not clear whether the Cobb school district conducted an investigation into the incident, and officials with the district would not comment on the case. The child attended Lewis Elementary.

“We can’t discuss ongoing or pending legal matters,” a district spokesperson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mosely has not filed a lawsuit against the school district, according to his legal team. In the course of gathering evidence for the warrant application hearing, the attorneys subpoenaed video footage from the bus, but the hearing was centered only on the criminal charges against Tebbens.

In a phone call with the AJC, Mosely said it was difficult to get the school district’s police department to take a formal statement about the incident. Despite going to the school the day his son was allegedly assaulted, he said he was shunted from one school district department to another for months.

Mosely said the resource officer at Lewis Elementary would not record a formal complaint, and he was told by officials at the district’s transportation department that video from the bus did not show the interaction between Tebbens and his son. He said he later found out they were viewing the wrong footage.

Mosely was tearful after the magistrate judge ruled to issue the warrant for Tebbens’ arrest, according to his lawyers.

“It took so much for us to get to this point of accountability and I promised my son I would protect him, so it’s all been emotional,” Mosely said in a statement.

Mosely and his lawyers have questioned whether the Cobb school district handled the case differently because the student is Black while Tebbens is white.

“I do wonder if the races were reversed if it would have been this hard,” Mosely said.

“It’s difficult for me to fathom a scenario where a Black bus driver grabs and assaults a (10-year-old) white child and there are not immediate and severe consequences,” Mosely’s attorney, Mawuli Davis, said in a statement.

Since the incident in 2019, Tebbens has continued in his employment with the school district, according to online salary records.

— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.