Fort Mill EMT accused of sexual assault, CMPD chief calls out low bail

An EMT was given a $15,000 bond after allegedly sexually assaulted a patient.
Chief Johnny Jennings is once again calling the bond process into question after an EMT allegedly sexually assaulted a patient.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 7:59 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - During a news conference on Thursday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings called out a bail system that allowed an EMT accused of sexual assault to walk free within an hour of being booked.

The EMT, identified as Akingbiwaju Joseph Opadele, was given a $15,000 bond after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a teenage patient while she was in the back of an ambulance.

According to jail records, Opadele was only housed inside the Mecklenburg County Jail for 37 minutes.

“Thirty-seven minutes,” Jennings said. “I want you to think about how short of a time period 37 minutes is.”

What seems like constant low bonds set for heinous crimes, violent crimes, and repeat offenders is frustrating the chief, and he’s once again calling for change to the county’s bail system.

“This case is particularly disturbing given that it involves of person in a position of medical authority, preying upon patient while suffering a medical episode,” CMPD Major Melanie Peacock said.

Akingbiwaju Opadele
Akingbiwaju Opadele(MCSO)

Opadele allegedly put his hands in the pants of a 17-year-old, sexually assaulting her in the back of a Fort Mill EMS ambulance while she was taken to the hospital for care in Charlotte. She reported the incident to hospital staff when she arrived.

He was the only EMT in the back of the ambulance with the victim when the incident happened on Jan. 17.

“At the time of the incident, Fort Mill EMS immediately placed the employee on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation and prosecution,” Tim McMichael, the Chief of Fort Mill EMS, said.

“The type of medical episode that the victim was experiencing did not necessitate any touching of that area for medical treatment purposes,” Peacock said during the media briefing.

Investigators are frustrated someone could be accused of such a crime and then be released less than an hour after being booked.

“What kind of message are we sending to our victims, our most vulnerable people within our society?” Jennings said.

Along with pain for the victim and family, the arrest of the suspect and his quick release is a hard pill to swallow for investigators working on the case.

“Everyone within the criminal justice system has a responsibility to ensure that our community and our citizens are safe, and we own that, we will always own that within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department,” the chief said.

To help fix the issue, Jennings said a bill called the Pre-Trial Integrity Act is being pursued in the state legislature.

“The concept is we take some of these difficult decisions out of the hands of the magistrates and allow the judges to make those calls as far as pre-trial is concerned, so I think that put another layer of accountability into the system,” he said.

The chief is hopeful the Pre-Trail Integrity Act will pass soon to help law enforcement keep offenders in jail.

As for Opadele, he is charged with felony sexual contact under pretext of medical treatment.

Related: Fort Mill EMT charged with sexually assaulting a minor in ambulance