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story.lead_photo.caption Joshua Edward Bell

BENTONVILLE -- A former Bentonville School District bus driver was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a student.

Joshua Edward Bell, 27, of Rogers pleaded guilty today to sexual assault. The plea was under an agreement that Peter Giardino, Bell's attorney, reached with Tyler Williams, deputy prosecutor.

Police arrested Bell on May 8, 2017.

The teenage girl interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County reported Bell made suggestive comments to her and touched her inappropriately while they were on the school bus, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The girl said Bell came to her home after the school year ended in 2016 and sexually assaulted her, according to court documents.

Bell said the girl invited him to her home and admitted he had sex with her, but said it was consensual, according to the affidavit. He also admitted he had inappropriate contact with the girl while she was on the bus, according to the affidavit.

Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced Bell to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He will have to abide by a suspended sentence agreement for 10 years after his release from prison.

Bell received 310 days of credit for the time he spent in custody awaiting his trial.

He will be required to register as a sex offender.

The judge ordered Bell not to have any contact with the victim or unsupervised contact with any minors.

Bell must complete the sex offender treatment program while in prison or a similar program after his release.

Bell will be required to register as a sex offender, the affidavit states.

NW News on 03/15/2018

Print Headline: Former school bus driver sentenced to 20 years in prison

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