Montgomery Co. bus driver charged with second-degree rape after sexually assaulting girl, police say

WASHINGTON — A Montgomery County school bus driver, known to students as “Mr. Steve,” has been arrested and charged with second-degree rape and other sexual offenses after police say he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl on his bus.

Former Montgomery County Public Schools bus driver. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)

Montgomery County police said Etienne K. Kabongo, 62, assaulted the girl on the afternoon of July 31 while the bus, which was transporting students receiving special education services, was stopped in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Police said Kabongo assaulted the girl after an attendant left the bus to help drop off another student. A school bus camera captured video of the assault, police said.

In addition to the rape charge, Kabongo has been charged with third-degree sexual offense and the sexual abuse of a minor.

Kabongo was in court Monday and was ordered held without bond.

Kabongo, who lives in Gaithersburg and worked for Montgomery County Public Schools since 2006, primarily drove students receiving special education services at schools across the county.

The school system immediately placed him on leave after learning of the allegations, according to a message from parents from Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith.

“Words cannot convey my anger, disgust and disappointment in the alleged behavior of Mr. Kabongo,” Smith said in a statement. “Abusing a position of trust and authority to take advantage of the most vulnerable among us is despicable. This behavior is a violation of our values and policies, as well as the law, and it will not be tolerated.”

The school system has published a partial list of the school bus routes Kabongo drove between 2009 and the present.

Not all Montgomery County school buses have cameras on board, but Smith said the school system is taking steps to “accelerate our process for acquiring cameras for all buses.”

Smith said the school system has also coordinated with Tree House Child Advocacy Center to offer counseling support to students and families. Counseling staff can be reached at (240) 777-4699.

Police said they are concerned there may be additional victims. They urged anyone who is concerned that a child may have been victimized by Kabongo to call detectives at (240) 773-5400.

In a statement, members of the Montgomery County Council said they would work to continue providing funding to the school to implement its child abuse and neglect policies, including additional training and security equipment.

“Our hearts ache for the student, who endured this horrific act of sexual violence, and her family,” the council statement said.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. 


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