Jailed bus driver had been target of students' complaints


The Clark County School District bus driver arrested this week after a 5-year-old girl said he sexually abused her in her home was the subject of previous complaints from several students who alleged that he touched them, according to a police report.

No disciplinary action on those complaints was taken against Richard Stephen, 63, the report states.

A transportation official told North Las Vegas police that several students came forward and complained that Stephen was “rubbing their arms, faces and shoulders when they get on his bus” but didn’t include when the allegations were made.

A school district official would not reveal what elementary schools Stephen transported students to and from, or when the allegations were made, saying it was a personnel matter that was confidential.

Stephen was arrested Tuesday on multiple counts of sexual assault and lewdness with a minor under 14. The incident involved a 5-year-old girl, who with her mother lived in the man’s North Las Vegas home and told a family friend Stephen touched her inappropriately several times while her mother slept.

The alleged victim was not a student with the district. The abuse took place between January and May of this year in a playroom in the home in the 3100 block Van Der Meer Street, the report said.

Stephen, who has been with the district since August 2007, is “currently considered a Clark County School District employee,” said David Roddy, a district spokesman.

A separate investigation was previously launched against Stephen by the school district when several students complained about his behavior while he was their bus driver.

Parents of the students involved were notified but they waived pressing criminal charges on condition Stephen stop the objectionable behavior, according to the police report. The investigation into that incident, for which the report never gives a date for, is ongoing.

Clark County School Board member Carolyn Edwards said trustees were recently notified of Stephen’s arrest. Edwards said she’s concerned about reports of him inappropriately touching students riding his bus. But she said, thorough background checks are done on prospective bus drivers.

“I don’t know short of doing a fingerprint and background check how you can catch someone who has no previous record,” she said.

She said it is now the responsibility of police to investigate if additional children have been victimized by Stephen.

“If he’s done something with one child, it raises questions about what he’s done with others,” Edwards said.

Police spokesman Tim Bedwell said today that no new claims have been reported and he has not fielded complaints from concerned parents.

Roddy said parents within the school district would not be notified of Stephen’s recent arrest because the incident is not school related. He would not discuss either investigation or verify previous student complaints, citing it as a “personnel matter.”

“He’s not been convicted,” he said. “You have allegations but not a case of conviction.”

Roddy said the department does not have a blanket “no touching” policy.

School district police Lt. Ken Young said no other investigation is currently being conducted on Stephen.

Stephen is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $180,000 bail. He was arrested Tuesday after North Las Vegas police investigated a claim the 5-year-old made that he abused her about 10 times in the home they shared.

The victim and her mother were renters in his home, and the abuse occurred in a playroom while her mother slept, the report stated. According to the report, Stephen told admitted touching the girl but said it was in a “joking manner” while wrestling and he “always did it in a father-like manner.”

He denied kissing or rubbing her in an inappropriate way, as alleged by the girl. The victim and her mother no longer live in Stephen’s home.

Review-Journal reporter Antonio Planas contributed to this report. Contact reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

 

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