Ann Arbor police investigating 3 sexual assaults by taxi drivers
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.
“Blue Cab was very cooperative,” Pfannes said.
John Etter, president of Blue Cab, released a statement to AnnArbor.com 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.