Jurors deliberated for less than two hours Thursday before finding a former Bibb County school bus driver guilty of simple battery.
A judge sentenced 54-year-old Ellis Hogges to six months in jail followed by six months on probation.
Hogges was recorded on video kissing a 14-year-old special-needs student on his bus March 3, 2014.
A trial for Hogges, who was charged with child molestation, began Tuesday in Bibb County Superior Court. Jurors acquitted Hogges on the molestation charge, instead opting to find him guilty of misdemeanor simple battery.
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Hogges’ lawyer, Bo Sammons, said it’s been hard for his client to find work while his case was pending.
He recently started work at the Macon Transit Authority, driving city buses, he said.
Bibb County schools fired Hogges on the day after the girl, who is autistic, told a teacher that he’d kissed her.
Evidence introduced at the trial showed Hogges admitted kissing the girl, but said it was on her cheek. Other witnesses testified the girl told them the kiss was at least partially on her mouth.
The girl told authorities the kiss happened on her birthday.
Hogges said “happy,” kissed her and said “birthday” as he pulled away, she said.
The girl also said she thought Hogges had “a crush on her” and that he had caressed her face on previous occasions.
While on probation, Hogges is barred from having contact with children.