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Former Fayette bus driver to be jailed for assault

| Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A former Fayette County school bus driver accused of assaulting a mentally disabled student will serve up to four years in prison, a judge ordered Friday after the defendant's wife said her husband needed to go to prison.

The wife of Jason Eugene Freeland, 30, of Uniontown urged President Judge Gerald R. Solomon to put him in jail.

Freeland pleaded guilty in August to aggravated indecent assault on a person with a mental disability, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and two counts of indecent assault.

After Christina Freeland advocated incarceration for her husband, Solomon sentenced him to two to four years in prison.

Freeland, who said in August that she plans to file for divorce, cried as she read her statement.

“He was my partner and my friend. ... I thought I knew him, but the truth is, I don't know him at all,” she said.

Married for 10 years, the couple have three children.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Cordaro said Freeland was evaluated by the state's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which determined he is not a sexually violent predator.

Uniontown police charged Freeland in January with assaulting a 16-year-old girl on a school bus when he was employed by Rittenhouse Bus Lines in Menallen Township.

The girl said she made plans with Freeland several days in advance to skip school on Jan. 27, court records show. The girl told a friend that she was “dating a high school bus driver.”

The Tribune-Review does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The girl told police that Freeland dropped her off at a bus yard in Smock and left her alone for 30 minutes while he retrieved a van. Freeland then drove her to another location where they had sexual contact, she said.

Christina Freeland said her husband was trusted by parents, the school district and his employer.

“We will have to deal with this for the rest of our lives. He does deserve to be punished,” she said. “The hardest part of all of this is how it's affected my children.

“He has crushed our hearts,” she said.

Her husband planned the attack and “preyed” upon the victim, she said.

“It should never have happened. He knew right from wrong. I pray Your Honor will make the right decision. I believe he deserves the maximum sentence for each charge,” she said.

Freeland apologized before he was sentenced.

“I wish and pray every day I could go back in time and change my actions. ... I've hurt so many people,” he said. “I'm truly sorry.”

Solomon ordered Freeland to have no contact with the victim and to undergo lifetime counseling, at his own expense.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401.

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