Police: 2 transit workers accused of raping ‘incapacitated’ Auburn University student on bus

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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2 Transit Workers Accused Of Raping ‘Incapacitated’ Auburn University Student On Bus

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Two employees of the transit system at Auburn University have been accused of raping an 18-year-old student on one of the buses Friday night.

Tony Martin Patillo, 51, of Columbus, Georgia, and James Don Johnson Jr., 32, of Auburn, are each charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy, according to Lee County Jail records. Patillo is also charged with four counts of public lewdness.

The Opelika-Auburn News reported that the lewdness charges stem from an incident just before midnight on Friday in which witnesses spotted a man exposing himself while standing over a woman on the ground. Patillo was arrested when responding officers found him nearby.

Detectives conducting additional investigation into the incident learned that Patillo had allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, who appeared to be incapacitated, while on the bus, the News reported.

The woman, who was no longer present when Patillo was arrested, was identified and tracked down by police officers, whom she told about the alleged rape. According to investigators, Johnson drove the bus and "engaged in actions to perpetuate the crime while Patillo was in the rear of the bus, assaulting the victim," the News reported.

Patillo exited the bus with the woman in the area where the passersby spotted him exposing himself a few minutes later, police officials said.

The Auburn Plainsman, the university's student newspaper, reported that the alleged assault took place on a Tiger Ten bus that runs from the downtown area to multiple apartment complexes and student housing areas off-campus. The late-night buses are specifically designed to give students a safe ride home.

"Our top concern is the well-being of the victim, and we cannot stress in strong enough terms our shock and distress over this despicable act," officials with Auburn's Department of Campus Safety and Security said in a statement. "We immediately provided support and all available resources to the victim and continue to do so."

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The Plainsman reported that the university operates campus security shuttles to take students to on-campus locations late at night. Tiger Transit and Tiger Ten buses are operated by outside contractor First Transit.

First Transit is required in its contract with Auburn University to perform background checks on all of its drivers, the campus newspaper said. Company officials told the Plainsman it is performing its own internal investigation of the alleged assault.

"At First Transit, we are greatly troubled by the events of Friday night," officials said in a statement. "The safe and reliable transportation of our passengers is our highest priority. It is a responsibility we take very seriously."

Both Patillo and Johnson were immediately removed from service and First Transit has begun termination proceedings, the statement read. Company officials said they are working with campus and city police in the investigation.

Auburn University is re-evaluating its contract with First Transit, the Plainsman reported.

Patillo was being held in the Lee County Jail in lieu of $127,000 bail, the News reported. Johnson was being held in lieu of $125,000 bail.

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