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Attorney calls teen accused in bus attack 'good kid'

ST. PETERSBURG — An attorney for the Dixie Hollins High School student accused of assaulting a 15-year-old girl on a school bus said his client is a good student and a star athlete who hoped to join the Air Force.

Branden Allen, 18, was arrested Thursday on felony charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment.

Two other varsity football players — Jacolbi Williams, 15, and Jermeil Douse, 16 — also were arrested on charges of being principals to sexual battery and false imprisonment.

"His family is very upset by this," said Lucas Fleming, who represents Allen. "From what has been told to me, he appears to be a good kid."

Fleming said Allen runs track and plays varsity basketball in addition to playing various positions on the varsity football team.

The Sheriff's Office said Allen, Williams and Douse pushed open the door of an empty school bus for students in after-school activities around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. The bus driver left the bus to round up students, the Sheriff's Office said.

An unidentified 15-year-old girl followed the three on board. Williams and Douse kept watch while Allen digitally penetrated the girl, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office said the incident was captured by a security camera and that Allen admitted the incident. The girl was not friends with any of the boys, deputies said.

Fleming said he has not reviewed the security footage but hopes it will show horseplay, not sexual assault.

None of the students has a significant criminal record.

Pinellas schools spokeswoman Andrea Zahn said the unnamed bus driver is still on duty, though no longer driving the after-school bus.

Johnnie Smith, 30, the older brother of Jermeil Douse, said his little brother was also a star football player who impressed college coaches as a running back and wide receiver.

"He's never been in trouble before," Smith said.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy

contributed to this report. Abhi

Raghunathan can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

Attorney calls teen accused in bus attack 'good kid' 05/09/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 1:18pm]
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