Bus Driver’s Hearing Waived After Video Shows Alleged Assault
WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) – The key evidence in the case of a bus driver sexually assaulting a student is a series of video tapes from the bus where the alleged actions took place.
Defense attorneys say those videos for the very first time Tuesday.
James Hopkins, 74, didn’t come to the district judge’s office for his scheduled preliminary hearing Tuesday.
Instead, his attorneys waived the charges against him to common pleas court and explained why they made that decision.
“We viewed the video with the District Attorney and based on what we saw, we made the decision to waive case in the court as charged,” said defense attorney Mike Deriso.
The video reportedly shows Hopkins inappropriately touching a 16-year-old girl with Downs Syndrome on multiple occasions between February and June of this year.
The alleged assaults happened on a First Student bus, where Hopkins was working as a monitor in the Penn Trafford School District.
According to First Student, Hopkins passed federal, state and local background checks when he was hired in 2007.
He was terminated in June when the allegations surfaced.
Hopkins will now head to trial on charges that include corruption of minors, institutional sexual assault and endangering the welfare of children.
“Before we put a handicapped girl – or any victim – through a hearing, we need certain considerations and in this particular case, we opted not to have the vicim’s family, or the victim, go through extensive cross examination at this level,” Deriso said.
As this case moves forward, Hopkins remains at home on a $50,000 bond that was posted by his family.