Bus driver arrested on multiple charges of sex crimes
Detectives have arrested a school bus driver in the Tigard-Tualatin area for multiple sex crimes.
In late January, Washington County Sheriff's Office detectives assigned to the Violent Crimes Unit began investigating a report that an Aloha man had been sexually abusing two young girls over the course of several years. Detectives identified the suspect as 32-year-old Kenneth M. Garcia.
During the investigation, detectives learned that Garcia was a school bus driver employed by Student Transportation of America in Tigard. Garcia's bus route included Durham Elementary School and Hazelbrook Middle School in the Tigard-Tualatin School District. His employer suspended him without pay when they learned of the investigation.
On Feb. 23, detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Garcia and took him into custody. Mr. Garcia is being held at the Washington County Jail, charged with: three counts of first-degree sodomy; unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree; two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree; three counts of sexual abuse in the second degree; two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree; and luring a minor.
His bail has been set at $2.25 million.
In a press release, the Sheriff's Office said, "At this time, there is no reason to believe that Mr. Garcia had inappropriate contact with any students on his bus routes."
Susan Stark Haydon, a spokeswoman for the Tigard-Tualatin school District, said Student Transporation of America informed the district that Garcia had been arrested and that the charges against him did not involve students from the Tigard-Tualatin School District.
She said she did not know how long Garcia worked for the bus company, which the district contracts with to provide bus service, but likely not more than two years since that's how long the company has provided service to the district.
In an email sent to parents by the district Tuesday afternoon, district officials said staff and local police are checking both school staff and police are trying to determine if there have been complaints regarding the Garcia.
"One report of the driver playing Frisbee with students during the break between his Durham and Hazelbrook routes was dealt with by the bus company in mid-December," the email reads. "We are asking parents and students to come forward to report any concerns. The driver has been suspended from the bus company since Feb. 14."
Meanwhile, detectives want to hear from any other potential victims or anyone with information about this case. People can call detectives at 503-846-2500.
Investigators thanked Student Transportation of America for their cooperation.