NEW ORLEANS - As a group of friends relaxes on a Friday night in the university area, they’re shaken by news that a woman was allegedly raped inside a cab the day before.
“It's nerve racking,” said Parker Miller. “You don't want to walk anywhere alone. Now I don't want to take a cab alone, and cabs are supposed to be safe for everyone.”
Police records show the assault happened in the 7600 block of Plum Street, several blocks from Tulane University, though Police Chief Ronal Serpas would not confirm the location.
According to police, the 20-year-old victim was on her way home from a business on Tchoupitoulas Street around 3:30 Thursday morning when she passed out, and awoke to the unthinkable. Police released a composite sketch of the cab driver, who allegedly pulled over to commit the crime.
Police said the driver then dropped the victim off a few blocks from her home in the university area.
“Cab drivers don't deserve to have a cab driver like this driving vehicles,” said Serpas. “We have every reason to believe this case will be solved and will be solved we hope in the near future.”
Miller said she knows first hand how vulnerable women can be alone inside a taxi after a disturbing incident Super Bowl weekend.
“[The driver] was just really touchy, he pulled over on the side of the road, so at one point I ended up getting out about half a mile away from my destination because I was so uncomfortable being in the cab that I would rather walk home alone,” she said.
Sexual harassment in taxis happens more often that you might think, said Sheree Kerner, president of N'awlins Cab
“A lot of women report being sexually harassed by drivers,” said Kerner. “They're scared to report them, they're forced to take the cabs home when they get off of work.”
But Kerner believes those incidents will stop now that cabs are required to have cameras in them.
“Especially now with the cameras in there, he's certainly going to be caught,” said Kerner.
Experts say the cameras can record even when the car is off. But most footage deletes automatically after a few weeks and is only reviewed when there is a known incident.
“So it's very important if anyone has an incident in the cab to report it right away,” said Kerner.
Police say the victim quickly reported the incident to police and sought medical help.
The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern man with a muscular build and no facial hair. Police said he is 5’9’, and approximately 40 years old.
Anyone with information should call the special victim section at 504-658-5521 or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.