Former bus driver arrested on suspicion of child molestation

Saturday, October 13, 2007 | 7:07 p.m. CDT; updated 4:24 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A former employee of the Columbia Transit System was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of first-degree child molestation. The man was also accused in 2001 of fondling a passenger on the Columbia Transit bus he was driving, police said.

Michael A. Stephenson, 43, was arrested Tuesday night after he made incriminating statements involving the abuse of a 6-year-old girl, Columbia police Detective Latisha Stroer said.

Stephenson is not related to the victim but is the boyfriend of the victim’s mother, according to the probable cause statement.

The victim drew a picture of a person with an erect penis, police said. During an interview, the victim said she drew the picture so that someone would know what Stephenson did to her, according to a probably cause statement. Additional information about when and where the picture was drawn could not be obtained Friday by the Missourian. Beyond the Oct. 4 incident, police do not know if the abuse was ongoing, Stroer said.

While Stephenson was a bus driver for Columbia Transit in May 2001, a 22-year-old woman who rode the bus he drove alleged that he had inappropriately touched her on her leg while he was working, Columbia police Sgt. Ken Hammond said.

Police arrested him on suspicion of sexual misconduct. He pleaded guilty to a lesser peace disturbance charge and was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation.

According to City of Columbia Human Resources, Stephenson started working for Columbia Transit in 1998 and “voluntarily separated” in May 2001.

Stephenson was being held in the Boone County Jail on Friday on $20,000 bond.

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