Crime

PATH driver bound over on sexual assault charges

A former van driver for a State College treatment center was bound over on all charges Wednesday.

Justin Jackson, 24, was taken into custody and charged a week ago for allegedly having sex with a minor he was tasked with driving home from the Pennsylvania Treatment and Healing Center. The minor, who was 17 at the time of the incident according to court testimony, reported the sexual contact had happened twice, on May 6 and 9.

The state police investigator testified that the Centre County Child Advocacy Center was contacted on May 16, reporting that a student at PATH claimed the driver had inappropriate contact with her. He indicated both the PATH drivers knew she was to be the first dropped off, and was usually home by 7:30 p.m.

The investigator testified that the alleged sexual contact had happened on a Friday and the following Monday. He also said drivers switched routes every week, that Jackson had been on the minor’s route on May 6, and had requested to stay on the same route May 9.

According to a taped interview with CAC, the investigator said, the minor stated that Jackson had told her on both occasions to get in the back of the van, where the touching and sex had occurred. He also said the PATH program director had tried to contact Jackson on Monday after the minor’s parents became concerned that she hadn’t been brought home yet.

Jackson’s attorney, Philip Masorti, attempted to cast doubt on the testimony, saying the trooper had only viewed a recorded interview with the CAC and had not spoken directly to the minor. He also claimed the investigator could not say what specific acts reportedly occurred, arguing that some of the charges were inaccurate.

Masorti also sparred with District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller over the true identity of the perpetrator, saying his client was never positively identified by the minor in a lineup and that it was questionable if she had even named Jackson.

Ultimately, Jackson was bound over on all charges by District Judge Allen Sinclair.

Parks Miller tried to argue an increase in bail, calling Jackson a “dangerous predator” and asking that bail be increased to $250,000. Jackson’s bail was set at 10 percent of $50,000, which was posted on Feb. 16, according to court documents.

Masorti argued that the last activity regarding his client’s investigation was in August, saying Parks Miller sat on the case for six months before filing charges on this “predator.” He also argued that Jackson’s “likelihood of acquittal is high” and the court has not even heard testimony from the minor.

Sinclair agreed to keep bail at its current amount.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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