A D.C. taxicab driver is accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger early Sunday morning in Northwest Washington.
D.C. police arrested Yared Geremew Mekonnen, 24, of Silver Spring on charges of second-degree sex abuse and kidnapping, according to police and court documents. He is scheduled for a hearing Thursday and was being detained.
The victim told police that she and her boyfriend had been out on a date in the U Street entertainment district in Northwest Washington and they had decided early Sunday morning to take cabs or a ride service home because they had been drinking.
It is not clear where the boyfriend went or how the woman ended up in the cab. The victim said she did not remember getting into the taxi and that she had a “black out” and woke up only as the driver was assaulting her in the back seat of the minivan, according to a police report and court documents.
After she “became hysterical” and hit and pushed the driver, he got into the front seat of the cab and started to drive, the victim told police. She said she begged him to let her out, but he kept driving and threw her cellphone out the window.
She grabbed the wheel of the van and screamed for help.
Another driver heard her screaming from inside the vehicle and called police. The witness said he made a U-turn and followed the cab to try to help the victim. He pulled his own vehicle in front of the cab, which eventually forced it to stop a few blocks away on 16th Street NW.
When the cabdriver got out of the van, he told the other man that the passenger was “crazy” and that he “did not do anything to her,” according to court documents. But the woman said the driver had attacked her.
When officers arrived, the taxi driver told them that when he picked up the woman at Decatur Street NW, near 16th Street, she was crying and said she wanted to go to downtown Silver Spring. He said that before he had “even begun driving” she started to scratch his face. He said he pulled over and called 911. But the victim, who lives in Virginia, said she does not know anyone in Silver Spring to visit.
Todd S. Baldwin, the taxi driver’s attorney, said his client is “presumed innocent” and “we’re waiting until all the facts come out.”