A PASSENGER who touched a schoolgirl and made her feel "uncomfortable" during a two-bus journey has been warned he will be jailed if he offends again.
Scott Johnson (29), Town Lane, Rockingham, sexually assaulted the 15-year-old girl while he was travelling home from work on a bus in Rotherham in September, 2017.
He sat behind his victim and assaulted her by putting his hand through a gap in the seats and touching her hip — an incident described by a judge as “a horrible ordeal”.
Johnson was given a 22-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court yesterday (13).
Mr Paul Healey, District Judge for Sheffield, told Johnson that his victim went through a horrible experience.
“She sits down first and you sat behind her and she’s uncomfortable with regard to your behaviour,” he said.
“She had a hunch that something was wrong.
“During the course of the journey, through a gap in the seat, you touched her in the hip area.
“She got off the bus and you followed her off the bus at the same stop — you say there was nothing malicious in that.
“She understandably felt very afraid because of the way you acted.
“It’s a horrible experience for a child to go through.”
The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said in a statement read out in court: “When I catch the bus now I make sure I catch it with other people.
“I don’t think it’s nice what he’s done — he makes me feel very uncomfortable.
“I want to make sure he doesn’t do this to anyone else.”
Mitigating, Mr Mark Dooley said Johnson had caught the bus from work, which was the same bus as the girl, and then boarded a second bus which she was on.
“He gets off at the same bus stop as her — but that’s also his bus stop,” said Mr Dooley.
“He says he doesn’t do anything when he gets off this bus.
“He recognises he’s made a grave error of judgement.”
Johnson initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault but changed his plea on the first day of his trial.
Mr Healey said he had stepped back from imposing an immediate jail sentence because Johnson had a family.
“You are beginning to acknowledge, late in the day, that there are issues that need to be explored,” said Mr Healey.
“This is a horrible ordeal for anyone to go through.
“You came very close to going to prison today and if anything like this happens again you will go to prison.”
Johnson was ordered to complete a rehabilitation programme, 120 hours of unpaid work and up to 30 days with the probation service.
He was put on the sex offenders' register for seven years and was ordered to pay £500 costs.