SEPTA rider accuses driver of sexually assaulting her during bus ride

By Jon Campisi | Mar 18, 2014

A bus driver for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is named as a defendant in a civil suit that accuses him of sexually assaulting a mass transit rider two years ago.

Brittany Johnson, a Philadelphia resident, filed a federal civil rights complaint on March 17 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in which the woman claims bus driver Timothy China, Jr., groped and assaulted her on March 17, 2012, while the plaintiff was a passenger aboard a SEPTA bus operated by China.

Johnson says at about 1:40 that morning, she boarded the bus at 49th and Girard Streets in Philadelphia traveling toward the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood.

China engaged the plaintiff in conversation about the woman’s destination, the lawsuit says, at which time he offered to have her stay on the bus at the route’s termination so she wouldn’t have to transfer vehicles to complete her trip.

When China got to the end of the bus’s run, he pulled the vehicle into the depot, and then pulled Johnson toward him “with force and against her will” and proceeded to physically grope and touch the woman without permission, the complaint alleges.

“Plaintiff did nothing to cause, encourage or provoke the defendant driver when she was suddenly assaulted and battered and subjected to excessive force by the defendant driver, Timothy China, Jr.,” the lawsuit reads.

Johnson claims China touched her on her breasts, between her legs, on her buttocks and on her thighs, all on the outside of her clothing.

The force that was used against the woman, the suit says, was “excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable under the circumstances.”

Johnson claims that as a result of the ordeal, she suffered mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and humiliation with physical manifestations.

The plaintiff claims she has undergone medical attention and incurred costs relating to her treatment.

The suit contains a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause Excessive Force claim as well as a Monell Claim against SEPTA, in which the mass transit agency is accused of failing to properly train and supervise employees regarding constitutional restrains and inappropriate touching of passengers.

There are also false imprisonment and assault and battery claims against China in his individual capacity.

Johnson seeks unspecified compensatory damages along with costs, interest attorney’s fees and other relief.

She is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Frederick Horn.


The federal case number is 2:14-cv-01567-TON.

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