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Posted on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Ann Arbor police investigating 3 sexual assaults by taxi drivers

By Kyle Feldscher

Update: Cab driver accused in assault arraigned on misdemeanors

Ann Arbor police Wednesday confirmed there have been three sexual assaults involving cab drivers since Jan. 23 inside city limits, including one in which the driver has been identified.

Detective Lt. Robert Pfannes released a statement Wednesday detailing the allegations from three separate women, including two University of Michigan students. Pfannes said police are exploring the possibility the sexual assaults are related, but the descriptions of the suspects are vague in each case.

Pfannes said prosecutors are reviewing the most recent case from Feb. 10 involving a Blue Cab driver. In that case, the driver allegedly touched a 23-year-old woman’s thigh while driving, then parked and then kissed her, Pfannes said. He said the company immediately began working with police in the case.

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“Blue Cab was very cooperative,” Pfannes said.

John Etter, president of Blue Cab, released a statement to Tuesday saying the driver denied the allegations. However, he will not be driving the vehicle he leases from the company while the investigation is taking place.

The driver has only been leasing a vehicle from Blue Cab since late January.

Two other cases are still under investigation. The first case was reported on Jan. 23 when a 19-year-old woman who is a student at the University of Michigan said she was assaulted by a cab driver after a ride from downtown Ann Arbor.

The other assault was reported on Feb. 3. In that case, a 21-year-old University of Michigan student reported that she was raped in the 300 block of East Madison Street.

Pfannes said the Jan. 23 incident took place when the woman got in a cab with two other passengers. After being driven from downtown Ann Arbor, the two passengers were dropped off. Pfannes said the driver parked the vehicle and made inappropriate advances toward the woman and attempted to remove her clothing.

The woman told police she kicked the man and got out of the vehicle. The driver was described as a man with a medium-olive complexion. The time and location of the incident were not released Wednesday.

The second incident was reported on Feb. 3 and resulted in a crime alert being sent out by the University of Michigan. A 21-year-old woman said she got in a vehicle she described as a cab at 2 a.m. that morning in the 1200 block of South University Avenue.

The woman reported being driven to a parking lot near her apartment in the 300 block of East Madison Street, where the driver allegedly raped her, Pfannes said. The man is described as white, in his mid to late 20s with short brown hair.

The companies involved in the two open investigations have not been named. It’s unknown whether they are state-licensed limousine services or city-licensed taxi cab companies.

The suspect descriptions in each case are vague, but police are keeping an open mind about whether the incidents are related.

“Police are exploring the possibility that the crimes may or may not be related,” Pfannes said.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

The most recent case has been turned over to the prosecutor and was not charged as a sexual assault. So far the police have not closed a taxi rape case. Please stay vigilant.

Joslyn at the U

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Bob is that Tigger? I love Tigger :)

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

If every woman who was ever sexually assaulted by a cab driver came forward, I'm sure most of you would take these stories in a different light. Kudos to the women who reported these assaults, especially the rape, because in reality only a percentage of sexual assaults are actually reported. Cab drivers taking advantage of a women when they are alone is not a new thing but maybe we as a city can implement sanctions to not allow this to happen again.

Camp Comments

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:11 a.m.

Kyle, please post a link to the statement by Lt. Fannes. Did he, in fact, describe these as three alleged sexual assaults, or is that your editorial interpretation. It is difficult to reconcile your posting this story at 2:59 pm, suggesting the police were at that time calling all three incidents sexual assaults, and then your posting an update at 4:25 pm, 86 minutes later, by which time procecutors have determined to charge simple assault, and you have been able to report on the arraignment for those charges, which occured earlier that afternoon. Three sexual assaults are newsworthy. So are two. Were you acurately reporting what the police were calling each of these incidents? Or is it just a better story if there are three sexual assaults?

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Camp - There is no link to Pfannes' statement, it was sent to me directly. He called them assaults directly. According to police, the driver in appropriately touched the victim's thigh and kissed her. While the man was charged with a misdemeanor, I believe it is appropriate to refer to inappropriate touching as a sexual assault. At the time of the story, I was not aware Mr. Ahamok would be charged with a misdemeanor. Inappropriate touching can also be charged as a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The arraignment occurred after the original story published.

Joslyn at the U

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10:06 a.m.

Damned good question camp!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

"Ann Arbor police Wednesday confirmed there have been three sexual assaults involving cab drivers since Jan. 23 inside city limits, including one in which the driver has been identified." I highly doubt this. Has there been a trial? Any evidence presented to a jury or judge? The reporting on this is very sloppy! Please, it is very important to ALWAYS differentiate between allegations and facts. ...sigh!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

Kyle, Shouldn't that headline be "investigating 3 ALLEGED sexual assaults by taxi drivers"?? As a matter of journalistic standards? No one has been found guilty of anything yet, and the one identified driver has not even been charged. There is at least some dispute about the incidents, and as you note the details of at least one are quite vague. I'm not suggesting that the allegations and investigations shouldn't be reported, but unlike a couple of early commenters here, shouldn't treat the narrative of these incidents as established facts.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Quite true rm1!

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

True, rm1, but I think the fact that we say police are investigating them shows the fluidity of the situation. I believe the headline is accurate as it stands, but I'll take care in the future to note that. Thanks for pointing it out.

Jen Goodman

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

Somebody tell me if this is perfectly legal: I'd start using my phone to take a picture of the back of the car, and snap a pic of the driver as I get in. All the drivers in the area should understand your concern for looking out for your own safety. Your phone should be set up to automatically backup your photos to the cloud. Women, don't live in fear, that's exactly what they want. Take common sense measures for your safety and go ENJOY your night on the town! You should expect to be able take a cab home without being raped.

Joslyn at the U

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:04 a.m.

Problem with that is you can't keep track of pickups or "flags" through dispatch. And limos are not required to do so either. As a matter of fact I don't think there's a regulation requiring city licensed taxi companies to do so either


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

Jen - You realize there is a daily log that essentially creates the audit? Jane Doe calls Cab company A and asks for a ride. She gives her location. Cab #2 picks her up. All of this is logged, or at least it better be. The Police would then go to the "alleged" cab company's depot and request this log. End of story. the only part of this that gets fuzzy is when the girl a) does not remember what company she called, or b) from where (pickup location).


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

Good idea, but I disagree that "they" are trying to make you live in fear.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

Jen, Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I would strongly suggest that.

Detached Observer

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

It's perfectly legal for a guy to put a magnetic toplight on his car, pop a Viagra and go cruising for college girls, because ... you know ... government regulation is bad.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Joselyn, The exact phrasing from a previous article. "...there are many limousine companies allowed to IMPERSONATE CABS due to the Limousine Transportation Act..."

Joslyn at the U

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:59 a.m.

Criminals will be criminals no matter what you regulate or how much for that fact. And class B limousine drivers and companies are NOT impersonating taxi drivers. The class B limos I travel in have no meters in them nor do they say taxi on the vehicle and actually if you want to get technical about it after readin the "limousine transportation act of 1990 " I discovered that acording to state rules listed in the act a driver may legally use a meter when they choose as long as that is not they're sole way of dictating what the fare should be.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

Detached, since you brought politics into this be aware that the drivers impersonating taxi drivers are doing so under the Limousine Transportation Act. The Limousine Transportation Act was signed into law in December 1990 by DEMOCRAT Governor Blanchard during the last days of his reign.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

"The fact is, there should be laws to license and vet cabbies and cab companies, and police should actively enforce them." There are laws. - Also, I think there may still be laws against sexual assault. Perhaps both get ignored by perps?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Got the sarcasm. Liked it. Would like to up vote you again.

Detached Observer

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

If you downvoted me because you thought I was advocating Tea Party insanity, I apologize that my sarcasm wasn't more transparent. If you downvoted me because you understood my sarcasm, I ask you this : How would "deregulation" and "smaller government" help to solve the problem of rapist cabbies? The fact is, there should be laws to license and vet cabbies and cab companies, and police should actively enforce them.

Basic Bob

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

On Saturday night when the bars are closing.

Peter Eckstein

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Why has it taken until today for the to report that there were three assaults by cab drivers, not just two. Did the police hold back the information, or did your reporter fail to notice it and pass it on to your readers??? This is serious business. The failure to alert the public to this kind of menace can mean that women will not be as careful as they should be about taking cabs in town. I'm sure that I am not the only reader who would like a full answer to these questions.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

No problem, Peter, all very fair questions. Thanks for reading.

Peter Eckstein

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

Kyle, thanks for your prompt and thoughtful reply to my question.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

Peter - It sounds like there is a lot of confusion around the first incident. Police are continuing to investigate, but - as you can tell by the lack of time and location in the story - many of the details are vague. I believe this is why the police did not release this incident immediately. Other media outlets reported there were 3 sexual assaults by cab drivers but did not cite a specific police official or say where that information came from. I was uncomfortable with doing the same and waited until I could get an on-the-record confirmation from police. At that point, I don't know how they got their information and how correct it is. I don't want to throw something out into the public sphere simply to generate a headline, I want to make sure I'm correct and giving accurate information. Other reporters in this day and age might not agree with me, but I would always rather be right than first.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

So. It is dangerous for a woman to ride in a cab in Ann Arbor. Three women assaulted in cabs. This is unacceptable. Ladies, if you're going out on the town, do not go alone. Have a designated driver, or call a friend. Until this person or persons are identified, do NOT hail or call a cab! It is not worth the risk.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

You still have a better chance of getting killed by a drunk driver. Let's focus on stuff like that too.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

what they caught the perv