Jury chosen in Two Harbors school bus driver’s trial on sex assault chargesA jury that includes a retired school superintendent, a Duluth firefighter and a television news director was selected Wednesday to hear the case of a former school bus driver accused of sexually assaulting children.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
A jury that includes a retired school superintendent, a Duluth firefighter and a television news director was selected Wednesday to hear the case of a former school bus driver accused of sexually assaulting children.
Jimmy Jerome James, 63, of Two Harbors is charged in St. Louis County District Court with five counts of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting five students between the ages of 6 and 10 between December 2009 and April 2010. Testimony begins today.
St. Louis County prosecutor Nathaniel Stumme asked some jurors their opinion of the credibility of child witnesses. Two jurors, a firefighter and a man who said he served with an Army intelligence unit in Iraq, said that at times during their careers they had relied on the words of children to help them make decisions.
Stumme and defense attorney Joanna Wiegert told jurors it will be a difficult case for everyone to hear. Stumme said the state will call about a dozen witnesses and most of them will be kids. There will be no scientific evidence introduced, he said.
The complaint charging James alleges that a girl told a First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center interviewer that the bus driver let kids sit on his lap so they could open the bus door. She said James touched her in a way that made her feel sick and that she knew several other girls who were touched in the same way.
Two women were excused from serving as jurors Wednesday because they told the attorneys and Judge David Johnson that they didn’t think they could be unbiased and fair to the accused.
“I’m just a softy for kids. … I’m just a grandma,” one woman said while wiping tears from her eyes before she was excused from serving. The other woman who was excused said, “It just brings back memories from when I was a child.”
James had been a full-time employee of the Lake Superior school district for 38 years and was head janitor at Two Harbors High School before retiring last year. He worked part-time as a bus driver for North Shore Community School. He has no criminal record.