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School bus driver charged with statutory rape of St. Louis student

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UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KPLR) - A school bus driver is charged with statutory rape, after police say he had sex with a student.  It happened in University City, but involves a St. Louis Public Schools student.

According to St. Louis County court documents, 38-year-old Charles Laden, Jr. drove this student to and from school every day. That's how they got to know each other.

University City Police Captain Mike Ransom says the statutory rape happened at a residence in the 1000 block of North and South Road, just north of Delmar, on April 21st, 2014.  The apartment wasn't home to either the student or the bus driver.

Police say the student, who was 15-years-old at the time, attends St. Louis Public Schools.

Her bus driver is or was a First Student employee, contracted with St. Louis Public Schools.  News 11 has reached out to First Student to determine Laden's employment status, with no response as of Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Public Schools Spokesperson Patrick Wallace says Laden is not a bus driver for the school district this year.

News of the inappropriate relations between this student and bus driver took school district administrators by surprise; Wallace says no one notified them of the incident, until News 11 did.

Police say this case took so long to investigate because the girl didn't tell her mother what happened until June. Her mother informed police, who immediately began investigating.

According to the St. Louis County Jail, Laden is not yet in custody.​