Alleged RFTA bus groper arrested, suspected in other incidents
A man arrested earlier this week for inappropriately touching a woman on a public bus is under investigation for three other similar incidents, authorities said Friday.
In one of those cases, Jonathan Jaime Hernandez, 35, of Carbondale, is suspected of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl on a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court.
“The allegations (in all four cases involve) touching — in some cases in private parts,” Bruce Benjamin, an investigator with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday.
Benjamin declined to release further details of the cases because they remain under investigation.
Hernandez was arrested Wednesday at Local’s Corner in Aspen after a female passenger on a Tuesday morning RFTA bus from the Basalt Park and Ride on Cody Lane to Rubey Park in Aspen reported his alleged behavior the day before, according to the affidavit.
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The woman told deputies she boarded the Tuesday bus just before 10 a.m. and sat in an empty row toward the back.
“During the bus ride, (the woman) was reading the morning paper and kept feeling something on her right hip,” the affidavit states. “(She) reported feeling this 2-3 times, but it was very faint. She kept looking down thinking it was her jacket, but she didn’t think much of it. She then felt something on her upper waist and looked down and saw a hand.”
The woman quickly turned around and confronted the man sitting behind her.
“Stop touching me,” she told the man, according to the affidavit. “Don’t do it again. If you touch me again, I’ll hit you.”
The man said, “No, no, no,” then moved to the front of the bus, the affidavit states.
The female passenger then took three photos of the man from her seat and sent them to the deputy who later arrested Hernandez.
On Wednesday, two deputies were able to contact Hernandez at Local’s Corner on Main and Galena streets a little after noon and told him they were investigating the RFTA bus incident the day before.
“Jaime stated that he was adjusting in his seat and that is why his foot touched the woman,” the document states.
In a later interview with Benjamin, “Jaime admitted to touching (the woman) on the bus,” according to the affidavit.
“He also stated that (the woman) yelled at him,” the affidavit states. “Jaime attempted to apologize to (her).”
Hernandez was charged with misdemeanor harassment.
“Jaime is also under investigation for 3 other reports of inappropriate touching that all occurred on a RFTA bus throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, one including a 14-year-old female,” the affidavit states.
On Friday, Benjamin said the other three incidents remain under investigation and involve different jurisdictions because the bus was moving through the valley during the time of the alleged incidents. All took place within about the past two months, he said.
Anyone else who has been inappropriately touched on a Roaring Fork Valley bus in recent weeks and months should call the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office at 970-920-5310, Benjamin said.
Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely ordered Hernandez held in lieu of a $5,000 cash or surety bond on Wednesday. As of Friday, he remained on the Pitkin County Jail roster, according to online records.
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