Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Assailant drove girls' school bus, victim says

Jeremia Tavita Simi, 57, was convicted of indecent assault at Manukau District Court this week. Photo / Supplied
Jeremia Tavita Simi, 57, was convicted of indecent assault at Manukau District Court this week. Photo / Supplied

A bus driver who forced himself on a woman he was supposed to be training allegedly drove a girls' school bus while the sexual assault was being investigated.

Jeremia Tavita Simi, 57, was convicted of indecent assault at Manukau District Court this week.

While in the dock he admitted to the judge he had not told his wife about the allegations and now it appears there may have been others kept in the dark about his offending.

The victim, who has permanent name suppression, said while the trauma saw her placed on "light duties", Simi continued driving buses.

Despite her accusations, one of the services he took ferried students to and from a girls' school, she said.

NZBus would neither confirm nor deny that was the case.

Asked how it dealt with sexual complaints, the company said "processes included suspension while an investigation is under way".

However, a spokesman later said: "Where passengers are involved drivers are stood down."

A New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman said Simi's passenger licence had been automatically revoked after he was convicted of indecent assault, meaning he can no longer drive buses.

But his victim told the Weekend Herald the ordeal had left an indelible mark on her life.

"This was my passion and he completely ruined it for me."

The woman began as a trainee at NZBus in September 2013 and Simi - a Samoan church elder - was one of her tutors.

On January 10, after Simi and his trainee arrived at a South Auckland stop too early, the 57-year-old walked her to the back seats of the bus.

He kissed her on the lips, prompting her to bolt from the vehicle to the nearby bus stop.

Simi's sexual advances continued before she quickly returned to the driver's seat and set off for the station.

When they reached Manurewa, she stopped the bus and he placed his hand under her shirt, on her stomach.

"I've never had anyone in all my years overstep that physical boundary, but he did and I didn't know how to handle it," she said.

Simi was ordered by the court to pay the victim $6000 and was sentenced to 60 hours' community work and 12 months' supervision.

- NZ Herald

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