Monday, July 6, 2009 | 3:21 p.m.
A Clark County School District bus driver charged with the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl tentatively agreed today to plead guilty to two lesser charges of attempted lewdness with a minor.
Richard Dean Stephen of North Las Vegas was arrested June 16 and booked on 10 counts relating to lewdness with a minor under the age of 14 and sexual assault.
At Stephen’s preliminary hearing in North Las Vegas Justice Court today, his attorney, William Terry, said he would enter the guilty plea when he is arraigned in District Court. That hearing is scheduled for July 29.
Stephen, 63, faces up to 40 years in prison for the two charges. He is being held in the Clark County Detention Center on $80,000 bond.
The North Las Vegas Police Department received a report on May 19 that a girl had been molested numerous times at her home, police said.
Although Stephen drove elementary school children, the alleged 5-year-old victim is not a student, police said. Stephen rented his North Las Vegas house on Van Der Meer Street to the girl's mother. He also lived there.
At today’s hearing, prosecutor Mary Kay Holthus said the police investigation found that Stephen had been warned by the school district for allegedly touching children on two separate occasions. According to the detective’s report, Stephen’s supervisor told police that she was conducting an internal investigation because “several students” alleged that he touched their arms, faces and shoulders on the bus.
Terry said during the hearing that no charges have been filed regarding those reports and there were no allegations that the touching was of a sexual nature. Terry declined to comment to the media.
A spokesman for the school district said he could not confirm the reports because it’s against policy to discuss employee disciplinary matters. In general, employees are advised not to initiate contact with students. Stephen was hired in August 2007 and he is still employed with the school district.