Editor’s Note: Following the original publication of this story on Dec. 8, KXAN received information from the Travis County Clerk that the case was dismissed because the “complaining witness has requested a dismissal.”
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last week, a short ride back home from a gas station ended in terror and trauma for one Austin man.
“I was freaked out. I was scared. I was shaking. I was appalled,” the man said.
This week, Austin police arrested a 23-year-old on charges of aggravated sexual assault.
The passenger said he ordered a ride to go to a gas station nearby. Rideshare apps are helpful to him because he relies on his wheelchair to get around. He can walk with a cane, but his steps are unsteady.
He said at the end of the ride, when they got back to his house, the driver came around to where he was sitting and opened the door.
“I thought he was going to come back and unlock the door for me and let me out and help me to my wheelchair,” he said.
According to an affidavit, however, that’s not what happened.
Police said the driver sexually assaulted the man.
“He pulled my head real hard to the side, and when he pulled my head, not only did I lose my balance, but he pulled me into his pelvis and smashed my nose,” he said.
“I told him no. It was happening so quick. I was shaking in my voice. Shaking in the car,” he said.
The man told us he wanted to talk about his experience because so many people use rideshare apps.
“And it happens to somebody else. Girl. Lady. Woman. Man. Boy. Child. Whatever. I just don’t think … You can’t be doing that,” he said. “You’re already trusting your life with some stranger in a car that you don’t know.”
He’s still coping with the trauma, so he’s trying to continue his everyday life.
“You can’t be fearful of every vehicle or every person that comes to pick you up,” he said.
In response, Lyft sent KXAN a statement.
“These allegations described are horrifying and deeply concerning. The safety of the Lyft community is our number one priority, and the behavior described is unacceptable. As soon as we were made aware of these allegations, we deactivated the driver. We have extended our support to the passenger involved and are actively assisting law enforcement in their investigation.”
KXAN also reached out to Uber to check if the suspect also worked there as a driver, but has not yet received a response.