Pace Bus Driver Sexually Assault Woman with Cerebral Palsy on Bus

According to Cook County court documents, a suburban Pace bus driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman with cerebral palsy no less than twice in January on a bus in Oak Park.

Burnell Johnson, 60, was charged with three counts of criminal sexual assault and two counts of sexual abuse, all felonies, according to the court documents.

The 33-year-old woman who is physically impaired has cerebral palsy and effectively functions as a 6-year-old girl, prosecutors said at Johnson’s initial court appearance on Saturday.

She used to ride the Pace bus driven by Johnson to and from a cerebral palsy treatment center, where she took part in adult programming. Over a fourteen days period, Johnson spent time becoming more acquainted with the woman, who finally exchanged phone numbers with him, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, Johnson told her to send him naked pictures of herself then delete the messages from her phone, and not to tell anyone about their interactions.

On January 10, Johnson waited until the woman was the only one left on the bus, then drove to an off-route location in Oak Park, where he assaulted the woman sexually on the bus, according to prosecutors, who said the woman was unable to consent because of her mental capacity.

Prosecutors said Johnson assaulted the woman on the bus at least one more time.

At the end of January, the woman told an employee at the treatment center that she thought she erroneously sent naked photos to the wrong person, prosecutors said. The employee asked her who she meant to send them to, and she identified Johnson.

He was arrested on February 23 but was released without charges. Johnson was arrested again on Friday and charged with the assaults.

Examinations of an onboard camera revealed Johnson covering the camera with a hat when he stopped the bus in Oak Park, prosecutors said. It blocked the view, however, Johnson could be heard on at least one occasion making sexually unequivocal remarks, prosecutors said.

A Pace spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Johnson, of Forest Park, was ordered held without bail ahead of his next court appearance on Tuesday.

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