2nd Winnipeg cabbie accused of sex assault
Licence stripped after woman complains
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | 5:38 PM CST
By James Turner, CBC News
A Winnipeg cab driver is facing sexual assault charges for the second time in less than three months. (CBC)A Winnipeg taxi driver with a history of behaving inappropriately toward customers is facing a charge of sexual assault.
Gurmail Singh Plaha, 50, was arrested in mid-May after a prolonged police investigation.
He faces a single sexual assault charge, according to Winnipeg police.
On the day of his arrest, Plaha was released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.
Plaha is the second recent city cabbie to face sexual assault allegations.
The Manitoba Taxicab Board has stripped Plaha of his operator's licence, a decision he has been fighting in Manitoba's Court of Appeal.
According to court documents obtained by CBC News, a woman complained to police and the taxicab board about Plaha's conduct in November, alleging the married father kissed her and groped her breast while sitting in his taxi.
He has denied the allegations, which have not been proven in court.
'Distraught and shaken'
A detailed report of the complaint made against Plaha to the taxicab board stated that he picked up the alleged victim on Nov. 3 after she phoned the Unicity Taxi company and requested a trip to the Concordia Hospital.
'I swear to God I did not do this thing.'—Cab driver Gurmail Plaha
The woman was wearing a jacket provided by a trucking company, and Plaha asked the woman about the possibility his brother might get a job there, according to the complaint.
Plaha looked at her though the rearview mirror of his cab and told her "she was a pretty lady with gorgeous green eyes," and stopped the vehicle to ask if she wanted to sit next to him in the front of the cab, the complaint said.
The woman declined. Upon arriving at the hospital, Plaha helped her out of the cab and allegedly hugged and kissed her on the cheek, the complaint said.
The official complaint said Plaha phoned the woman four times that same day about getting his brother a job. A police report filed in court added that the woman did agree to have coffee with him.
She agreed to meet with him later that day and agreed to sit in the cab with him to keep warm.
The complaint said Plaha leaned toward the woman and began kissing her, which "shocked and scared her."
"The driver is alleged to have reached down the complainant's top and squeezed her right breast," the complaint said. After this, she was able to push him off.
The woman admitted she was "distraught and shaken."
"The driver threatened [her] that if she found out that she informed anyone of the incident, that he would return and harm her," the taxicab board stated.
She called police after leaving the taxi and going back inside her home.
A taxicab board investigator said Plaha denied all charges during an interview, saying he had "no idea" why she complained about him.
The taxicab board said Plaha was reprimanded in 2008 for "prohibited conduct toward passengers" that was similar in nature to the current complaint.
Plaha was asked: "Seeing this is the second complaint with you in two years concerning the same inappropriate behaviour, why should we believe you?"
"I swear to God I did not do this thing," he told the investigator.
He has been a city cab driver since 2003.
The taxi board pulled his licence for about a week in late November, but was reinstated to after investigating officers with the Winnipeg police determined no criminal charges were warranted.
However on Apr. 29, police approached the taxi board asking for copies and records of any complaints made to them about Plaha.
Following his recent arrest, Plaha was ordered to surrender his licence by May 18. He launched an appeal on June 16.
Court records indicate that the appeal as been adjourned indefinitely as of last Thursday.
Plaha declined a request for an interview when contacted by CBC News.
On May 5, another city taxi driver, 41, was charged with sexual assault after a 21-year-old woman came forward to police to make a complaint.
Police have not identified that driver.
Corrections and Clarifications
- It was initially reported that Gurmail Plaha has been charged with sexual assault. While police have charged him, the charge has not been formally laid in court. That will not happen until his first court appearance. Police did not say when that will be. Posted: July 22, 2010 | 2:00 p.m. ET
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