Woman was Sexually Harassed by Bus Driver as a Child
21-year-old Kristen Bishop was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her bus driver, Edward Comperchio, as a child in the three-year span between third grade and sixth grade. She later filed a lawsuit, and the Mount Arlington school district as well as the bus company, Byram Bus Lines, and Comperchio, agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle the case a day before the civil trial had been set to start.
Comperchio, 78, who drove bus #3, was accused of picking up Bishop before her scheduled time and taking the bus to a nearby vacant parking lot to molest her, according to the woman’s lawsuit. Once the bus was parked, Comperchio would turn off the surveillance camera inside and would turn the camera back on before beginning his route. Byram Bus Lines had no system in place to monitor the videos, so the misconduct went unnoticed.
The driver was ultimately indicted on twenty counts of first degree aggravated sexual assault and pleaded guilty to at least one depend of fourth degree committing an illegal act on a child. The plea deal focused on one offense committed on May 27, 2009. In addition to digital penetration of the girl’s genitals, Comperchio had been accused of touching her breasts and buttocks for his own sexual gratification.
Comperchio also reportedly frequently gave his victim gifts in order to keep her quiet. “Comperchio showered Kristen with stuffed animals and personalized birthday cards, gaining her trust while making her feel special and needed,” attorney Gregg Stone said. In interviews, the man’s neighbors stated they were surprised by the allegations. Comperchio was once president of their homeowners’ association. Family, friends, and associates referred to him as a good husband, father, and grandfather.
At sentencing, Comperchio was given a three-and-a-half-year probation and was ordered to not have any unsupervised contact with any non-family child under the age of 18. He can no longer work in any position involving minors. Yet, he will not serve any time behind bars.
An attorney for the bus line argued that any statements made by Stone to the media were a violation of a confidentiality agreement in the case and ended up settling for an undisclosed amount. The owner of the company, when approached by law enforcement officers, had originally indicated he was shocked to learn of the arrest and allegations and cooperated fully with the investigation. The district contributed $250,000 to the settlement. Comperchio agreed to pay $1 million. All parties denied any responsibility for the crimes.
Normally, the names of sexual assault victims are not disclosed, but Bishop wanted her name to go on record to draw awareness. In the wake of the MeToo Movement (or #MeToo) more victims are feeling empowered to go on record in the worldwide fight against sexual harassment and assault. #MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of assault and harassment. The movement has gained traction in the media and entertainment industry with many celebrities voicing their own personal experiences in order to encourage victims to speak up.