A former Petersburg school bus attendant was sentenced to serve two years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to having carnal knowledge of a 13-year-old middle school student during an illicit relationship that developed over social media.
Scott Michael Askins, 49, was convicted in Petersburg Circuit Court of two counts of having sex with the girl without force in November and December 2019, after they began a secret relationship on Instagram, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Danielle Ferguson.
“They made arrangements through social media for him to come to a mutually agreed upon location [for sex], and it was his frequent visits to that location that neighbors began to suspect that there was something going on,” Ferguson said.
“He did speak with her initially in his position as a bus aide,” the prosecutor added. “It of course then blossomed into much more than that, and they communicated often via social media. They continued to keep their communications pretty clandestine. It was not on a cellphone or text message.”
The sexual encounters occurred at a home but the prosecutor declined to elaborate to protect the girl’s identity. “It was not on a bus or school grounds,” Ferguson said.
A parent of the girl notified police after discovering the relationship, the prosecutor said.
When Askins was arrested on Dec. 29, 2019, he was charged with sodomy and two counts each of rape and having carnal knowledge of a girl 13-14. But those charges were not certified to a grand jury after a hearing in Petersburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Ferguson said. The commonwealth’s attorney’s office subsequently obtained indictments against Askins in May 2020.
In an interview with police, Askins initially denied having sex with the girl but later admitted to the contact, Ferguson said.
“He said it was wrong but it did happen,” Ferguson said. “He reported that he didn’t want it to happen and that [the victim] was as active in the relationship as he was.”
Ferguson said the girl suffered from behavioral issues that “prevented her from being able to understand that this was extremely inappropriate.”
In accordance with Askins’ plea agreement, Petersburg Circuit Judge Joseph M. Teefey Jr. sentenced him to 10 years in prison on each count with nine years suspended on each, leaving him two years to serve. He also was ordered to register with Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry.