WASHINGTON — Prince George’s County investigators have video evidence of a school bus aide molesting children on a county school bus.
Michael Patopie, 38, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, was arrested and charged on Tuesday morning with second-degree child abuse, sexual abuse of a minor and related offenses for inappropriately touching two special needs students on a school bus. County school officials said Tuesday that they would fire Patopie.
The video shows Patopie sitting next to one of the children, said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“We believe it shows him inappropriately touching one of those victims,” Erzen said. “As that victim exits the bus, the video shows (Patopie) then sitting next to another victim where we again, we believe based on what we have seen, that there is inappropriate touching of that victim as well.”
It’s not clear how many children were on the bus at the time but Erzen said the investigation continues.
“If we find evidence of additional victims, we would certainly move forward with that and it’s possible that the charges then could be amended to include additional victims.”
Prince George’s County police said the children were ages four and five and the charges were based on abuse that occurred on a school bus in November of 2015 and in May of 2016. The children attended James Ryder Randall Elementary School in Clinton, Maryland.
Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, said in a statement that officials would “immediately seek his termination.”
“I am horrified by the nature of these crimes, sickened and angry that this individual may have preyed upon our students. We will cooperate fully with our law enforcement partners to ensure that he is held accountable. Our focus remains on providing all children with a quality education in a safe learning environment.”
Patopie was being held in lieu of 500,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 24.
Parents and school board members have expressed frustration about the case, questioning why the school system took so long to investigate.
Another school system aide, Deonte Carraway, was arrested earlier in this year on dozens of sex offense charges after he was discovered to have recorded child pornography involving some of his students.
Mitch Miller and Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report.
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