Affordable Bail: Bus Driver Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Passenger With Cerebral Palsy Posts $400 To Go Free

Bus driver Burnell Johnson is accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger who functions as a six-year-old on a Pace bus in Oak Park. He is free after his sister posted a $400 bail deposit. | Wikicommons; Cook County Sheriff

A suburban Cook County Pace bus driver, accused of twice sexually assaulting a passenger who was traveling from a cerebral palsy treatment center, has gone free after posting a bail deposit of just $400. And, now, the judge who lowered his bail has removed the man from electronic monitoring.

Prosecutors alleged that on at least two occasions in January, 60-year-old Burnell 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. 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.

In court on June 9th, Burnell was charged with five felonies: two counts of criminal sexual assault-consent and three counts of criminal sexual abuse. The court’s pretrial services division, which collects information to help judges make bail decisions, recommended that Johnson be under “maximum conditions” if he is released before trial.

Judge David Navarro ordered him held without bail.

On June 12, Judge Eulalia De La Rosa reaffirmed Johnson’s no-bail status.

Three days later, Johnson was in court again—standing before Cook County Judge Stanley Hill.

According to a source, Hill asked a relative of Johnson’s how much the family could afford to pay as bond. The relative—a retired court clerk who used to work in the same courthouse as Judge Hill, according to the source—said $400.

Hill nixed the previous “no bail” status and set bail at $4,000, allowing Johnson to leave jail on electronic monitoring by putting down a ten-percent deposit. Johnson was ordered to avoid contact with anyone under the age of 18 and was given permission to go to work at a hospital and attend church. Shortly after 2 o’clock that afternoon, his sister posted a $400 payment and Burnell Johnson was released.

Judge Hill’s order to remove Johnson from electronic monitoring.

Last Friday, Hill vacated his electronic monitoring order effective immediately. Johnson is now free, off of electronic monitoring, with $400 as a security deposit. Hill’s written order stipulates “(1) zero tolerance for alcohol or drug + (2) random urine drops + no driving + continue attendance at…church.” Hill also set a “24/7 curfew” and reiterated that Johnson is to stay away from children.

Burnell Johnson is due in Judge Hill’s courtroom again on Friday morning.

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