Manitoba

Cabbie suspended for sexual assault charge

The Manitoba Taxicab Board has suspended the licence of a driver charged with sexually assaulting a female passenger in Winnipeg this week.

The Manitoba Taxicab Board has suspended the licence of a driver charged with sexually assaulting a female passenger in Winnipeg this week.

Jerry Kozubal, secretary of the taxicab board, said police called him Wednesday afternoon about the assault and the 41-year-old driver for Duffy's Taxi company was suspended 10 minutes later.

The driver's case is before the courts.

He also faces a hearing before the taxicab board about his future employment status.

Kozubal said the driver passed a criminal record check when he was hired about two years ago.

Police said a 21-year-old woman was in the man's cab at about 5:15 a.m. Tuesday, getting a ride to the River Heights neighbourhood, when the driver allegedly assaulted her.

The woman tried to get out but was unable to, police added.

The cabbie then drove the woman home and allegedly sexually assaulted her again before she was able to get out of the car.

The woman called police when she got into the house.

A Duffy's Taxi spokesman, Barry Homenick, said he doubts a sexual assault happened, noting the driver was a model employee.

Other drivers charged

Since 2007, nine taxi drivers in the province have been found guilty of sexual harassment and three have been charged with sexual assault (not including the latest case).

Punishment has ranged from fines to revoked licences.

"If it is sexual assault and it is serious, we don't want to see that type of individual driving regardless of what the court decision may be in that case," Kozubal said.

However, two drivers arrested for sexual assault later had their licences reinstated, according to the taxicab board's own documents.

Melissa Spence, who regularly uses cabs for both business and when she's out for a social event, said a cab driver once tried to kiss her while dropping her off.

"I said, 'Absolutely not.' I knew I was intoxicated after the club [but] that's still not an invitation to hit on me or, you know, try and make some kind of move," she said.

"That's totally inappropriate. It's a cab. You're supposed to be paying them to do a service for you — not that kind of a service though."

Spence didn't report the incident. She said she now always sits in the backseat, behind the driver's shield.

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