Auburn Bus Rape Case Goes Before a Judge, Enough Probable Cause to Send to Grand Jury

The two Tiger Transit bus drivers, accused of rape and sodomy of an Auburn University student, had a preliminary hearing Wednesday in a Lee County courtroom.

Judge Steve Speakman said there’s enough probable cause against Tony Patillo and James Johnson, Jr. for their case to go to a grand jury for an indictment. The charges then could go to trial in Lee County Circuit court.

Auburn police Sgt. Michael Creighton took the stand to testify the evidence they gathered so far on what happened the night Tony Patillo and James Johnson were arrested for rape and sodomy.

Four cameras captured the moments when the victim, who was highly intoxicated, was placed on the bus by two people.

Johnson was the driver that night and was supposed to take her home.

She was incoherent and did not get off the bus, so he went back downtown to ask his supervisor what to do.

The supervisor advised him to try to drive back and drop her off and if she didn’t get off, that’s when they would call the paramedics and police.

Patillo was next to the supervisor when this conversation happened and got onto the bus with Johnson.

Sgt. Creighton testified that they did not go back to where she lived when asked.

They stood over her and had a conversation mentioning the fact that she’s passed out.

Then Patillo moved her to the back of the bus.

“There’s a camera over the handicap part of the bus and you can see the victim being moved into various places and him going back and forth and him wrapping the victims leg around him and this happened for several minutes,” said Sgt. Creighton.

The camera also captures Patillo forcing the victim to perform oral sex on him.

Johnson’s attorney argued that he had no recollection of this happening since it was at the back of the bus and he was advised by Patillo to turn the lights off.

“I don’t think the testimony even remotely rises to the level showing Mr. Johnson had any knowledge of anything occurring at the back of the bus, but following orders of a senior driver,” said Johnson’s Attorney Sherri Mazur.

But, the state argued that Johnson aided this offense.

“He’s comfortable enough to allow the rape of this girl on the bus. When Johnson was driving, he’s not gonna stop and say, hey what are you doing? Or told his supervisor that, hey Patillo is acting inappropriately to this girl on the bus. Not only that, he gives Johnson a signal to turn the lights on and off and then Johnson says, hey I’m about to turn the lights back on, I have to make a stop. I don’t know what other explanation there can be,” said Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes.

Patillo will remain behind bars in the Lee County Detention Center, Johnson will remain out on bond but still has to wear a ankle monitoring device.

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