Ex-bus driver, county commissioner accused of grooming student

A former Hubbard County Commissioner and school bus driver is accused of grooming a 13-year-old boy, and authorities believe there could be more victims. 

Danny Joseph Stacey, 59, was charged on Monday with first-degree attempted sexual conduct and electronic solicitation of a minor for allegedly grooming a 13-year-old student on his bus route. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Stacey was also previously a DARE officer and a Boy Scout leader and asked for others who may have had contact with him to come forward. 

"We understand that it's difficult for crime victims to come forward and tell their story," said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans in a statement Thursday. "Victim-survivors will be believed and support will be available should they choose to share their information."

According to court records, Stacey would make plans with the mother of a 13-year-old for the child to go with him after school to his property in Hubbard County. The teen said he was often the last child on the bus, and Stacey would routinely deactivate the cameras, which investigators confirmed with surveillance footage. 

The child reported in November 2022, he went to Stacey’s motor home, where they had "therapy time" and talked about sex and drugs. Stacey gave the child a phone and instructed him to go into the other room to do sexual acts, court records allege. The teen told authorities he could hear Stacey on the other side of the door making sexual noises. 

Stacey tried to touch the victim at one point but was pushed away. Stacey told him not to tell anyone, rehearsed what to say then paid the teenager $21, according to court records. 

During the investigation, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Stacey’s home and said the teen's description matched the layout of the home. Authorities located a cigarette the victim said he smoked, which made him sick, and found the vomit outside the property. 

Authorities looked at Stacey's Google account associated with his phone as he reported it missing the day he was placed on leave from his job. The records state he looked up how to delete activity and data from an account. There was also a folder with a deletion marker, which is used to check if the data was actually deleted, on the day the search warrant was executed, according to court records. 

Stacey is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon. So far, two county judges have recused themselves from the case. 

Authorities said the investigation of this case has led to additional potential victims, and more are believed to exist. 

Stacey's past roles include working as a Boy Scout leader, a bus driver in the Nevis Public School District, and a mentor at youth homes. Other witnesses or victims who may have information about the case are asked to contact the BCA Tip Line at 877-996-6222 or via email at bca.tips@state.mn.us.