- In late 2013, a woman was forced to hand over $50 to a cab driver for her phone, which she had accidentally left in the cab. The woman took a cab home on Dec. 21, 2013, and noticed she had lost her phone. Using the Find my iPhone tracking feature, she was able to send a message to the phone. The driver called her husband and said the woman would have to pay $50 if she wanted it back. The money was the fare for driving the phone, the driver said at the time. The woman paid the money and then filed a complaint with the Taxicab Board, which ruled the driver’s conduct was a “serious departure” from what’s expected of cab drivers. He was fined $250 and ordered to repay the $50.
- In April 2014, two young women said a taxi driver took them to a wrong neighbourhood and locked them inside the vehicle when they asked him to stop. A friend of the two women had hailed the cab and asked the driver to take the women to Richmond West. Instead, they said he went to Elmwood. Only after they called 911 did the driver stop. Winnipeg police said a language barrier was an issue in the incident.
- A month earlier, a woman said she was locked inside a cab in a similar incident. Sasha Renaud said at the time she and her boyfriend hailed a cab back from the Palomino Club, but the driver’s shift was almost up and the driver didn’t want to drive them back to Transcona, where Renaud lived. When her boyfriend walked away to find another ride, the driver took off with Renaud still inside. Renaud said she told the driver she was calling the cab company and the driver responded with “Go ahead.” She called police and the driver stopped, but left her locked inside until police came and drove her home. Police said a language barrier was a factor in this incident, too, as the driver didn’t speak a lot of English.
- An incident in 2001 also involved a cab driver and an alleged sexual assault, but the driver was acquitted, and has since said the incident ruined his reputation. The incident involved a 23-year-old woman who said she was groped during a ride outside the city. She told a city media outlet weeks later she’d jumped out of the cab at an intersection and run through deep snow to a nearby home to ask for help. Fourteen months later, the man was acquitted, but his name had already been published in the media.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/7/2014 (2626 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A young woman's weekend night out ended in horror when a taxi driver took advantage of her situation and subjected her to a serious sexual assault, Winnipeg police say.
Now, investigators are working to piece together clues in hopes of finding a suspect.
Police revealed details of the unusual case Monday and asked for tips from the public.
The woman had been at a nightclub with friends on Elizabeth Road in Windsor Park. She became separated from them when the bar closed around 2 a.m. Sunday.
Outside the club, she tripped and fell on the sidewalk. A cab driver placed her in his taxi, said Const. Jason Michalyshen.
The cabbie began kissing her when she asked to be taken to a specific location, said police.
She was driven away from the club -- first into North Kildonan, then to the area of Day Street near Thom Avenue East in Transcona.
It was there she was seriously sexually assaulted, said Michalyshen.
The cabbie took the victim to the destination she'd initially asked to go to, which was in the same area, said police.
Police were called there around 5:40 a.m. The victim was checked out soon after in hospital and had suffered injuries, said police.
"This is a very serious incident," said Michalyshen. The victim is "incredibly distraught" at what happened, he added.
Police didn't shy away from disclosing the victim had been drinking before going to the nightclub, as well as while she was there.
The suspect took advantage of her state, police suggested.
"She was obviously seen as a vulnerable individual based on the alcohol she had consumed," said Michalyshen.
The victim had been seated in the passenger side of the cab for at least some of the ride, police said.
Police had yet to identify the specific cab the victim had been in, or the company it belonged to. "That is something we're still working on," Michalyshen said.
A suspect description offered by police indicates they're searching for an East Indian man in his mid-20s who is thin and is 5-6 and 5-7.
At the time, he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, said police.
The victim reported he had "tall or high" hair, which was unique in appearance. The victim described his hair as "weird," said Michalyshen.
He drove a silver Toyota Prius. Police also noted the suspect may have a scratch the victim gave him while she was being assaulted.
Investigators are working with cab companies to try to track the cab.
It's possible GPS data and camera footage from inside the car will play a role in the case, police said.
Police and Winnipeg's cab companies have a "great relationship," said Michalyshen.
"We're talking about a specific incident here. Our relationship remains strong with all taxicab companies."
A member of Manitoba's Taxicab Board said Monday complaints of sexual misconduct against drivers aren't common.
"We haven't had that many cases. I've never heard of anything as bad as this," Winnipeg Coun. Harvey Smith said. Smith is city council's representative on the board.
Smith said despite some of the vague elements of what police said happened to the woman, the fact she filed a report quickly after the assault will be helpful.
"I don't imagine she'd have filed a report unless there was some merit to what she's saying... it doesn't look good for (the cab driver) at this point," said Smith.
Cab drivers accused of sexual misconduct can see their licences suspended and ultimately cancelled if convicted.
"They're very difficult cases," Smith said of sex-related complaints.
"Sometimes it's very difficult to judge -- you're dealing with someone's livelihood. The main thing is that the public has to be protected," said Smith.
The board has heard only a couple of sexual-misconduct cases in the last two years or so, said Smith.
Criminal sexual-assault cases against drivers are also infrequent.
The most serious currently before the courts involves a Duffy's Taxi driver, 29, who is accused of raping a 12-year-old girl on July 15, 2012.
It's alleged the driver had been giving the girl a ride before taking her to an apartment, plying her with liquor and then seriously sexually assaulting her. Police charged him with sexual assault, sexual interference and forcible confinement. A jury trial is set to take place in May 2015.
Police ask anyone with information regarding Sunday morning's sexual assault to call investigators at 204-986-6245 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
Passengers share difficult encounters
INAPPROPRIATE gestures, glances or questions, unwanted touching. Sometimes, it's a creepy vibe.
These are among examples of shady and negative episodes some Winnipeg women say they've had in taxicabs.
Their tales of bad rides began cropping up on social media Monday, shortly after police revealed they were seeking a driver in connection with the serious sexual assault of a woman early Sunday.
"It's the idea that there's strength in numbers," Shannon Sampert said of sharing stories on social media.
"They don't think they're going to be believed if it's just them," she added.
Sampert, a politics professor at the University of Winnipeg with expertise in the study of women and the law, said she once had a cab driver ignore her request to stop the vehicle.
He just kept going and wouldn't listen, Sampert said, so she began calling 911 for help.
"It's funny how quickly he stopped," she said.
Women often don't make formal complaints because they know the difficulties of obtaining convictions in court, said Sampert.
"It takes a lot of work, a lot of energy and for some women, it's just not worth it," she said.
"They just don't want to be laid bare (through the public justice process)," Sampert added. "They'd rather suffer in silence."
If that's to change, reform is needed to stop sexual-assault complaints from turning into "he-said, she-said" hearings, Sampert said.
As well, Sampert advocates for more funding for support for victims as their cases wind through the justice system.