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Crime

2 Employees Charged in Sex Assault of Ala. College Student Aboard Campus Bus

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Tony Martin Patillo (left) and James Don Johnson
Auburn Police Department

Alabama authorities have filed rape and sodomy charges against two men who were allegedly involved in the sexual assault of an 18-year-old Auburn University student who passed out on one of the school’s shuttle buses, PEOPLE confirms.

James Don Johnson, 32, and 51-year-old Tony Martin Patillo were both arrested for their roles in Friday night’s attack.

According to a statement, police in Auburn, Alabama, received a call minutes before midnight about a man allegedly exposing himself while standing over an incapacitated woman.

Officers arrived at the scene to find Patillo — but no sign of the woman. Patillo was detained and initially charged with four counts of public lewdness.

Detectives continued investigating the incident and soon learned a woman who “appeared to be incapacitated” had boarded a bus and was allegedly sexually assaulted by Patillo, who works for Tiger Transit, a private shuttle service reportedly operated by First Transit and contracted by the university to ferry students to and from the city of Auburn and the school campus.

Johnson, a fellow employee of Tiger Transit, “was driving the bus, engaged in actions to perpetuate the crime while Patillo was in the rear of the bus raping the victim,” the police statement alleges, citing a further investigation.

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Eventually, Patillo allegedly exited the bus with the female victim; a passerby saw her tumble to the ground as Patillo opened his pants, the statement alleges. Police were able to track down the victim and interviewed her about the assault.

A spokesman for the Auburn Police Department tells PEOPLE that Johnson allegedly did not participate in the sexual assault but “helped facilitate it” by not intervening.

Patillo, who lives in Columbus, Georgia, is being held in lieu of $127,000 bond while Johnson, an Auburn resident, is being held in lieu of $125,000 bond.

Neither suspect has pleaded to the rape and sodomy charges and neither has retained an attorney who could comment on their behalf.

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Auburn University said in a Monday statement that the school was working with police in the investigation.

“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,” the statement continued. “We immediately provided support and all available resources to the victim and continue to do so.”

The school said it was “evaluating the future” of its relationship with the bus service.

In its own statement, First Transit said, “We are greatly troubled by the events of Friday night. The safe and reliable transportation of our passengers is our highest priority. It is a responsibility we take very seriously.”

“The drivers were immediately removed from service and we are initiating the termination process,” their statement continued. “We continue to work with the Auburn police department and the university; we are also conducting our own internal review.”

Anyone with information about the rape is asked to call 334-501-3140 or 334-501-3100. Information can be left anonymously at 334-246-1391.