Former Sarpy County school bus driver denied parole

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 8:24 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A Nebraska man convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy was denied parole on Thursday.

Jay Bruna, a former Springfield, Neb., bus driver was accused of sexually assaulting the boy on his school bus in 2002. Investigators said he groomed the child and made his stop the last stop on the route so he could sexually abuse the boy several times after parking on a dirt road.

6 News was there as Bruna prepared to take questions from the Nebraska Parole Board on Thursday. The 52-year-old is currently on work release at the Community Corrections Center in Omaha; he isn’t scheduled to be released from prison until 2027.

“What do you have to say to the little boy you befriended and groomed and then sexually assaulted several times. What would you have to say?” Parole Board Vice Chair Layne Gissler asked Bruna.

“This was not your fault,” he said. “I was the adult in the room. I’m responsible for the actions and thoughts. This is not your fault.”

Bruna apologized for the pain he caused and said he’s a better man today.

“I made horrible decisions, catstrophic conditions,” he said.

Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis had never in his 48 years in law enforcement spoken in front of a parole board — until now.

“(It) is one of the most heinous, hurtful child sexual assault cases I’ve been involved in — ever,” he said. “Each time he was assaulted, the victim was told. If you say something, I will hurt you.”

Bruna has his supporters.

“I’m asking that his years of incarceration be considered payment for his crime,” Pastor Sandy Webster said.

Mike Wiggins, head of Bruna’s transitional living house, which is specifically for housing sex offenders, also spoke on Bruna’s behalf.

“I would put everything I have that he is not going to commit another crime,” he said. “He has a big family, and I can’t tell you how many of them said, ‘We support him and love him, but we can’t stand the fact that he did what he did. And if we have any indicators whatsoever, we’ll be the first people there to send his ass back.’ ”

But the parole board did not grant Bruna parole, explaining they didn’t think he was ready yet.

“I don’t think we’ll benefit you or society to keep you here until 2027 and throw you out with no supervision whatsoever,” parole board member Mark Langan said. “There will be a time down the road when I will strongly consider parole. It won’t be today. He needs more transition time at the community center.”

Instead, the board will review the case in a year, pointing out that Bruna has only been in the lowest custody level of transitional housing since April.

As it stands now, Bruna’s projected release date isn’t until 2027.

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