By Kevin O’Rourke
Montgomery County Police believe that there may be more victims of sexual abuse by Jose Pineda, the substitute teacher arrested for inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl at Roberto Clemente Middle School in September. Pineda has, subsequently been charged in three more incidents of sexual abuse at Montgomery County Schools.
At a press conference this morning, Montgomery County Police Spokesman Captain Paul Starks explained that Pineda’s work history with Montgomery County Public Schools goes back to the year 2000, when he was hired as a bus driver. Pineda worked as a bus driver from 2000 until 2003. From 2003 until 2006, he worked for MCPS as a substitute teacher.
It was during this time that the Pineda allegedly abused a girl while working as a substitute teacher at Forest Oak Middle School in 2004. That victim, who is now 24-years-old came forward after the Roberto Clemente incident. Starks said that at the time, in 2004, MCPD was not notified of this allegation.
Starks said that there was a void in Pineda’s work history between 2006 and 2013. It is unclear why he stopped working as a substitute teacher. Pineda resumed working as a substitute in March of 2013 and it was during the 2013-2014 school year that two more victims reported being abused, while he was working at Ridgeview Middle School.
Starks also said that nine more girls have come forward. “All of them reported being touched by Jose Pineda while he was acting as a substitute teacher. However, based on what they reported, it was determined that those acts did not rise to a criminal offense,” said Starks. He added that while the incidents may not have been criminal, the information those students provided were helpful to the investigation. Starks said all nine of those incidents took place during 2014, six occurred at Ridgeview Middle school and three occurred at Gaithersburg Middle School.
Starks asked anyone with more information about additional incidents of abuse to come forward. “We are here today because [Pineda’s] had opportunity and a lot of access to young people and some folks have come forward, some people, such as the one 23-year-old victim, may not be in communication with Montgomery County Public Schools anymore. They may have moved on. We want anyone with any information to come forward and talk to us. No information is too small. They can contact the Special Victims Division 240-337-5400.”
Pineda worked as a substitute teacher from November of 2013 through September of 2014, according to MCPS records, at 20 MCPS schools at all levels elementary through high school. He worked at four Germantown area schools, Roberto Clemente Middle School, Seneca Valley High School, Clopper Mill Elementary School, and the Longview School for special needs students.
“The other part of this is that investigators are looking to see where he was from 2006 to 2013,” said Starks. “We realize that people in the community may have some information about where he was working or living and if he had contact with young people at a rec center, at a church at a school, or some other form of employment.”
While Starks said, “The MCPD and MCPS have a long history of working together and we will continue to coordinate,” he also said, “If a parent thinks that their child has been victimized and law has been broken, they should contact the police. Any criminal investigation belongs with the police department. However, the police department in any jurisdiction cannot act alone, if there is an incident that occurs in the community, be it a business or school, [the police] need help from that organization.”
Susan Burkinshaw, co-chair of the health and safety committee of the countywide MCCPTA said, “We have been saying for years that communcation was a problem within MCPS.There are methods to deter these kinds of people from seeking employment where they have access to children, but MCPS does not seem to follow them. We seem to be a magnet for these types of people. We need to be doing more the make sure zero children will become victims.”
Burkinshaw said that School Resource Officers can be a great way to deter this sort of behavior. “When you have a school resource officer it is a deterrent. MCCPTA has been advocating for school resource officers in every secondary school for a number of years. They are not just there to protect and build relationships with the kids, they are also there to police the adults in situtations like these.”
Pineda is charged with four counts of sex abuse of a minor and four counts of sex offense in the third degree stemming from four separate incidents and is held on a $150,000 bond, and was not able to afford the bond and is currently incarcerated in Montgomery County Detention Center.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article misidentified Captain Paul Starks as Chief Thomas Manger. The Germantown Pulse regrets this confusion.