Crime

Will Ocean Springs bus driver accused in child sex crimes go to trial?

Sergio Sandoval goes to trial on charges he touched a student’s genitals and sexually assaulted her on his school bus.
Sergio Sandoval goes to trial on charges he touched a student’s genitals and sexually assaulted her on his school bus. Robin Fitzgerald

A former Ocean Springs school bus driver accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old student will undergo a mental evaluation at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Sergio Eduardo Sandoval’s mental health came into question in February after he reportedly fainted in a hallway at the Jackson County courthouse during a break in his trial. He is accused of molesting and sexually assaulting an Oak Park Elementary School second-grader on his school bus in September and October 2014.

Judge Kathy King Jackson declared a mistrial in February and issued orders for Sandoval to undergo a psychological competency test after his medical episode. She placed him in jail pending trial. The judge declared the mistrial after hospital staff said his condition was stress-related.

After initial testing for competency after the mistrial, a doctor recommended Sandoval’s transfer to the state hospital for further testing, treatment and observation. In her latest order, Jackson instructed state hospital staff to treat Sandoval even if he didn’t want it.

The judge also issued order for doctors, jail staff and others to submit written reports to her on his behavior, any statements he’s made about the alleged crime, any previous arrest reports, and any doctor’s reports on whether he will be competent to stand trail in the “foreseeable future.”

“Even if he is suffering from an acute exacerbation of PTSD, it would be expected that he could be restored to competency so that he could proceed with the defense of the charges against him,” Jackson wrote in her order.

Sandoval is set to go court April 21 for a hearing.

He remained jailed Friday in Jackson County.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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