Thursday, July 26, 2018

Update: New judge increases bail for Pace bus driver accused of sexually assaulting disabled woman

Pace bus driver Burnell Johnson is accused of sexually assaulting a woman with cerebral palsy at least twice.
There are new developments to report in the case of Burnell Johnson, the suburban bus driver who is accused of twice sexually assaulting a passenger who was traveling from a cerebral palsy treatment center. Initially held without bail, a judge later allowed Johnson to go free by posting just $400 bond. Days later, the same friendly judge ordered him off of electronic monitoring, too.

Developments since our last report:
• Johnson violated his curfew, according to court records
• A grand jury returned a 20-count true bill against Johnson
• A new judge has increased bail and ordered him back onto electronic monitoring

Background

On June 9th, prosecutors alleged that 60-year-old Johnson parked his Pace bus, covered a surveillance camera with his hat, and then sexually assaulted a 33-year-old female passenger who is visually impaired and has cerebral palsy at least two times in January. The victim could not give legal consent because she functions as a six-year-old, according to prosecutors. Burnell also told the woman to send sexually explicit photos of herself to him, prosecutors said.

Whatever happened on the bus was blocked by Burnell’s hat, but microphones recorded him making sexual comments, according to prosecutors.

After being ordered held without bail by two separate judges, Johnson went before a third judge on June 15. Judge Stanley Hill allowed Johnson to go free by posting just $400. Two weeks later, Hill released Johnson from electronic monitoring, too.

New Developments

Judge Pamela Leeming
On July 9th, about ten days after Hill released Johnson from monitoring, court officers found Johnson in non-compliance with a court-ordered curfew because he did not answer the door when they stopped by his home, according to court records.

The next day, a Cook County grand jury returned a 20-count true bill charging Johnson with seven Class X felony counts of criminal sexual assault of a handicapped victim; seven felony counts of criminal sexual abuse of a handicapped victim; three felony counts of criminal sexual assault - unable to give consent; and three felony counts of criminal sexual abuse - unable to give consent. The case was re-assigned from Hill to Judge Pamela Leeming.

The day after that, officers went to Johnson’s home and put him back on electronic monitoring.

In court today, Judge Leeming raised Johnson’s bail to $40,000. He will need to post another $3,600 to go free.

Johnson is due back in court on August 27th.

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