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Lyft driver accused of sexually assaulting passenger in Maricopa

The driver faces charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and sexual abuse, according to a court document.

MARICOPA, Ariz. — A Lyft driver was arrested in Maricopa Sunday morning on suspicion of sexually assaulting his passenger as he drove her home. 

According to a form IV filed by the Maricopa Police Department, a woman called police around 4 a.m. Sunday and reported her friend was sexually assaulted by a Lyft driver who dropped her off at her home.

The victim told police she and several friends, including the woman who called police, were drinking at the True Grit Tavern in Maricopa and left to go to a friend’s home. The victim said there were several animals at the home and she was unable to stay because of her allergies.

Around 2:45 a.m., the victim contacted a Lyft driver to pick her up and take her home about 9 miles away. A Lyft driver picked her up around 3:15 a.m. Police later identified this driver as Rayan Jarjes.

The victim told police during the ride, the two talked about relationships and how difficult it was to find the right person. She told police Jarjes asked her if she liked him and wanted to do things with him, to which she responded by telling him she doesn’t know him.

Police said the driver then asked the victim if she would like to kiss him and pulled the vehicle over, turned it off and removed the keys from the ignition. The victim told police the driver exited the car, opened the back door and kissed her on the lips. As he kissed her, he bit her lips, the victim told police.

After that, he returned to the driver’s seat and turned the car on. Police said he continued down the road to drop her off at her home.

According to the victim's account, Jarjes asked her if she wanted to lie down in the back seat because she looked tired. The victim told police she was very tired and decided to lie down with her head near the passenger seat and her legs directly behind the driver’s seat.

The driver told her she would be at her home in 11 minutes. The victim told police as she was asleep in the back seat, she was awakened by Jarjes rubbing her legs while he was continuing to drive. She told police he then placed his hand under her dress and underwear.

According to the document, the driver pulled the car over again, exited the driver door, walked in front of the car and made his way toward the trunk, removing what the victim believed to be baby wipes based on the sound of plastic when he grabbed them.

Police said as Jarjes removed the item from the trunk, he opened the back passenger door and told her to sit up. The victim told police he slapped her multiple times when she told him she was tired and did not want to sit up.

She said as Jarjes was slapping her, he asked her if she was OK. She said Jarjes then grabbed her and pushed her up into the seated position behind the driver seat and entered the back seat with her.

While he was in the back, Jarjes allegedly asked her if she wanted to perform oral sex. She said she did not respond to the question and saw multiple bright flashes coming from the driver’s phone. She said she believed he was taking pictures of her. The victim told police he then unzipped his pants and forced her on him.

Officers investigating the case contacted a dark colored four-door sedan in the area with a Lyft indicator in the front seat and a driver matching the victim’s description.

Police conducted a traffic stop and asked Jarjes to exit the vehicle. One officer noted Jarjes’ pants zipper was down and his underwear was clearly visible, according to the court document. 

While speaking with officers, Jarjes showed officers the Lyft ride on his cellphone, which showed the ride was about 9 miles long and took about 30 minutes, police said.

According to the court document, when asked about why the ride took so long, Jarjes told police he stopped two times during the ride to try to wake the victim up. He said he used the light on his cellphone to check if she was alright and “may have accidentally taken a photograph of her.”

Officers asked about the Lyft camera attached to the windshield of his car, and Jarjes told police there was no SD card in the camera to record information. When police asked to look into Jarjes’ cell phone to see what photographs were taken recently, he said he did not want officers to search his phone.

Officers arrested Jarjes and impounded his car and cellphone on the scene, the court document says. 

Police said officers interviewed Jarjes at the Maricopa Police Department, where he admitted to sexual contact with the victim but claimed the victim asked him to do it and threatened to call police if he didn’t.

Jarjes faces charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and sexual abuse, according to the court document. 

A Lyft spokesperson released a statement Thursday in response to the allegations:

"The allegations described are abhorrent. Safety is fundamental to Lyft and we have absolutely no tolerance for this behavior in our community. Upon learning of the incident, we permanently banned the driver and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation."

The rideshare company said their policy is to do third-party background checks on all their drivers before and randomly during their time with Lyft.

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