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Van Driver Convicted in Sexual Abuse Case

06.24.09 12:24 PM – Andy McDonald

© 2009 KYNews.org

BEREA - A Berea man was found guilty Friday of wanton abuse of mentally handicapped adults in his care.

Ryan L. Whitaker, 27, of Berea, was jailed last April after authorities discovered he had directed mentally handicapped people on a transport van to touch one another in an inappropriate manner.

The incident came to light when one of the passengers told a caretaker that he no longer wanted to go to the daycare on the transport van, police said.

Police said the incident occurred on April 13, 2009 while Whitaker was transporting mentally handicapped individuals from Berea to an adult daycare facility in Richmond. The van was operated under a contract with P-Cab in Berea.

On Friday, Whitaker was sentenced to one year in jail, 300 days of which are conditionally suspended.

Also on Friday, a charge of fourth degree assault against Whitaker was dismissed without prejudice.

In an unrelated case, police say Whitaker was also charged with criminal abuse first degree in connection with the alleged abuse of his three year-old son.

Whitaker's wife, Debbie Lyn Whitaker, 23, was also arrested Friday for criminal abuse first degree.

"The defendent subjected her three-year-old to hitting, kicking and slapping the child for the past two years," said Berea Police Captain Ken Clark, reading from the complaint. "We also charged Ryan Whitaker with the same offense."

Debbie and Ryan Whitaker were served with the warrants for criminal abuse when they appeared at District Court in Berea on Friday.

Police said the lead detective in the case, Lee Ann Boyle, felt there was enough evidence against the Whitakers to warrant filing the charges. The investigation was joint operation with the state department of child protective services, police said.

The child, meanwhile, is in the custody of relatives, according to authorities.

Berea news, Richmond news, Madison County KY news.

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