ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.


Rochester school bus driver arrested, accused of sexually abusing 13-year-old

A 74-year-old Rochester school bus driver was arrested on charges of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, federal officials announced Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, Tomas Rosario was charged with possession of child pornography and attempted tampering with a witness via a criminal complaint. If convicted, the local man faces a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 20.

The criminal complaint states that the Rochester Police Department received a report of sexual assault involving a 13-year-old girl early in March. Officials say an investigation determined the girl was allegedly touched inappropriately by her school bus driver, who was later identified as Rosario.

Investigators were able to recover surveillance video from inside the bus that captured the suspect having inappropriate sexual discussions and interactions with the victim on the way to and from school. Prosecutors say the victim and Rosario were the only two people aboard the vehicle during the alleged interaction both to and from school.

“Rosario asked the [minor] if she has a boyfriend and whether or not she would ever ‘lollipop’ a boy or girl,” the prosecutor wrote in the complaint. “Based on my training and experience, I believe that the term ‘lollipop’ refers to performing oral sex.”

The complaint goes on to say Rosario asked if the minor ever watched her parents be intimate and then asked her if she let her past boyfriend grab her “little thing.”

The prosecutor says Rosario indicated to the girl where he lived and said if there was a day when she didn’t want to go to school, she could call him. The complaint said Rosario instructed the victim to not tell anyone about their conversation.

The complaint alleges that the conversation continued and Rosario told the girl that one day they could “take a ride” and he could show the minor his penis. He allegedly told the girl that “ding-a-lings” come in all different sizes. Rosario allegedly then told the girl that people “suck his ‘ding-a-ling” and that “sperm is allowed.” The complaint continues:

“Rosario then suggests the minor victim should masturbate that night and grabs the minor victim’s hand and begins to rub her finger explaining how to masturbate.”

Later that day, according to the complaint, the victim re-entered the vehicle after school and was once again the only person onboard with Rosario, which is when the driver allegedly gave the minor a piece of paper with his phone number on it.

An extended version of this story, including the full criminal complaint, is available in the link above.

RTS reinstates mask requirement a day after going mask optional

The Regional Transit Service announced it will revert its masking guidance only a day after making masks optional for both customers and employees.

Under the reinstated measure released Wednesday, customers and employees must wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth on all RTS buses and in the public areas.

Officials with the agency pointed to an executive order in New York State as the reason behind the change. The ruling, which is still in effect, states that masking is required on all public transit.

RTS issued the following statement in response to Tuesday’s lifting of masking:

“Following conversations yesterday with the office of New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, it was made clear that the mask requirement on public transit in New York remains in effect for now, pursuant to a March 2, 2022, determination by the New York State Department of Health.

Gov. Hochul is expected to release additional guidance for masking on public transit at a later point today as part of a coronavirus briefing. It will be live streamed on rocherfirst.com at 10:30 a.m.

2 hospitalized following double stabbing on Whitney St. in Rochester

Two people were injured, including a 15-year-old, after a double stabbing in the area of Whitney Street later Tuesday night.

According to police, responding officers were led near Lime Street and Whitney Street around 10:40 p.m. for the report of a male stabbed. Once at the location they found a 23-year-old suffering from stab wounds.

Officials learned of a second victim shortly after and located a 15-year-old in the area of Lyell Avenue who had been stabbed at least once in the upper body.

Authorities say both were transported to Strong Memorial Hospital for non life-threatening injuries.

No suspects are in custody at this time. Anyone with more information is asked to call 911.

4/20 Cannabis Convention at Main Street Armory in Rochester

April 20th, or 4/20, is cherished by pot smokers around the world as a day to smoke up with friends and crowds each year.

2022 marks the second year of marijuana being legal in New York state and to celebrate the holiday, there is a local 4/20 Cannabis Convention scheduled to take place Wednesday. Last year, community groups met up at the Highland Bowl to celebrate the newly enacted legislation that legalized marijuana.

The event is set to take place at the Main Street Armory on East Main Street from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Tickets for the convention are available online, with general admission prices beginning at $20 online ($30 on the day of) and a limited number of VIP tickets for $200.

VIP perks include an early entry from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., a VIP area, food and drink, a commemorative shirt, and a gift bag with goodies.

Cannabis became legal in New York last year under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), but no adult-use recreational licenses have been issued yet.

Currently, the only way to acquire marijuana legally in New York is through a medicinal program, which recently expanded eligibility and has set up a new cannabis certification and registration system. The program will now allow a patient to get certified for medical marijuana by a practitioner for any condition they see fit.

Not only will more patients be allowed to be prescribed marijuana, but more practitioners including dentists, podiatrists, and midwives will be able to prescribe it.

Last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the opening of a web-based application portal for hemp farmers who are seeking conditional licenses to grow marijuana for the 2022 growing season — a move that state officials say will “jumpstart” New York’s cannabis industry.

It’s unclear how many retail licenses will be issued in New York, the second-most populous state after California to legalize possession and use of marijuana for adults over age 21.

State lawmakers, tenants push ‘Good Cause Eviction’ law at Rochester City Hall

Prohibiting eviction without good cause on a state level was a central theme Tuesday night at City Hall.

Lawmakers and tenants hosted a forum to talk about the “Good Cause Eviction” bill.

The law — if passed — would help provide tenants with protections and challenge any unjust practices of landlords, like rent hikes, severe code violations, or intimidation tactics. All of this comes after City Council voted down a local version of “Good Cause” last month.

Dozens shared their stories Tuesday from various properties across the city. Stories of code violations big and small, with neglectful landlords at the core.

Assemblyman Demond Meeks (D-137) says “Good Cause” — if passed — will help provide guaranteed protection for tenants across New York.

“This will also push for a more even playing field as it relates to tenants having a voice,” Meeks said.

Avocates say this is the first step to addressing housing instability. They say if housing instability is addressed, then other community problems can help get solved, like drug addictions, violence, and mental health, to name a few. 

“I don’t want to see [anybody else] out on the streets!” said one tenant at the podium.

Barbara Rivera with Citizen Action says there are a lot of landlords who live outside the city, even outside the state. That, she says, causes a disconnect. 

“They have absolutely no idea what’s going on with their properties. They’re hiring these people who have no idea how to maintain the property,” Rivera said.

Meeks says his passion for passing “Good Cause” comes from shared experience. 

“We’re going to put pressure on the powers that be, and move it on up the ladder,” Meeks said.

Meeks and other lawmakers are heading back to Albany on April 25. According to the City-Wide Tenant Union, Rochester currently has more than 3,000 open eviction cases, impacting close to 7,000 residents.

Weather forecast: Chilly morning sunshine, a pleasant Wednesday ahead

Wednesday is expected to be drastically different to Tuesday — at least weather wise. Skies are clear with low chances of precipitation and a high of 50 degrees to top it all off. Bring on the sun!