HONOLULU (KHON2) — An Oahu father is praising a city bus driver for stepping up and stopping the sexual assault of his daughter from going any further.
The incident happened on city bus route 40 on Farrington Highway near St. Johns Road.
The 17-year-old girl was riding TheBus headed to a friend’s house in Waianae around 5:15 p.m. on Monday, April 26.
In her statement, she said she was on her phone when the suspect, 41-year-old Jonalee Popa, assaulted her.
The girl’s father wanted to speak out to warn other parents but asked that KHON2 not use his name to protect his daughter.
“A moment before she said, the guy had looked like he was just sleeping in the back of the bus. And she paid him no mind,” the father explained. “Then, all of a sudden, (Popa) was right there in front of her face and kind of almost on top of her.”
According to the teen’s statement, Popa was rubbing his groin area against her leg for about 10 seconds.
She said she was in shock, frightened and did not know what to do.
Then the driver stopped TheBus and intervened.
“Kudos to the bus driver, I think he did see it and stop that right there. So it didn’t go any further,” the girl’s father said.
The teen took a video of Popa as the driver was kicking him off the bus. In the video, the driver tells Popa: “I seen what you did. Get off the bus. I don’t like that on my bus. Get off, now!”
Police arrested Popa about an hour later about two miles up the road. Popa was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault.
Oahu Transit Services customer service vice president Michelle Kennedy said in a statement: “The safety and security of our passengers is always our first and foremost concern. TheBus operator acted swiftly to ensure the safety of the female passenger as well as the rest of the passengers on TheBus. We have been fully cooperating with the HPD investigation and will continue to assist in any way necessary.”
The girl’s father said what happened is disturbing.
“I’m definitely angry,” he said. “I kind of wish I found him before the police did but things did work out and he got arrested. So he’s taken care of. I’m just glad to see that he’s off the streets for the time being.”
He said his daughter is relieved Popa is in custody, but she is still shaken.
“She’s definitely a little bit freaked out, she is getting counseling,” he said.
He added that she is now hesitant to ride TheBus.
He wanted to share this message: “Be aware of your surroundings at all times. And if someone is giving you a bad feeling, act on that. Don’t be timid and don’t be afraid to speak out, make noise. And if something is happening to you like that, get noticed and get help.”
Jonalee Popa’s bail was set at $500. A status hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 29.