AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man operating a rideshare vehicle was arrested and charged with sexual assault after an incident June 11, an affidavit from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said.
The affidavit from TCSO accuses Ololade Shoetan, 41, of sexually assaulting a woman he picked up while driving for a rideshare company. The affidavit says Shoetan picked up the woman at her apartment to take her to work, and after making friendly small talk for a while, Shoetan pulled his vehicle over before the destination in the Wells Branch neighborhood.
Shoetan requested the woman take off her facemask several times and to sit in the front seat, and after the woman declined to do so several times, she eventually complied because she became “extremely fearful” of him.
The woman said Shoetan intimidated her by staring at her through the vehicle’s rearview mirror and speaking in a “forceful tone,” and after she complied with his demands for her to sit in the front seat, the alleged sexual assault occurred, the affidavit said.
The affidavit said at one point the woman’s phone began to vibrate because she was late for work and coworkers were trying to contact her. Shoetan took her phone from her during the alleged sexual assault, the affidavit said.
Eventually, Shoetan took the woman to work, the affidavit said. The woman cried hysterically and told her manager about the ordeal, the affidavit said. The woman told police she “feared for her life” during the alleged assault.
The woman said after the incident, she received two phone calls from a person she believed was Shoetan and she thought he was at the apartment complex she lived in. The woman said the way Shoetan parked his vehicle when he came to get her before the incident, he could see her come out of her apartment, so she thinks he knew where she lived, the affidavit said.
The woman also said her mother received two phone calls from a man believed to be Shoetan. The woman’s mother’s phone number is also listed on her rideshare account, so that is how she thinks he got that number, the affidavit said.
According to jail records, Shoetan has bonded out of Travis County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in court July 9, according to Travis County court records. We reached out to his attorney and they declined to comment on the case.
We also reached out to the rideshare to ask about the company’s background check policies on drivers, how they try to keep riders safe and to confirm if he’s still driving for the company. A spokesperson for the company said:
“Safety is fundamental to Lyft. The behavior described is appalling and we removed the driver from the Lyft platform as soon as we learned of these allegations. We have reached out to the rider to offer our support and have been in touch with law enforcement to assist with their investigation.”
Lyft safety and screening policies
Lyft says it has in-app safety features, including one that allows riders to share their location with family and friends. Additionally, riders who feel uncomfortable or unsafe can connect with an ADT security professional through text or call or the professional can even silently alert 911 on their behalf and share the user’s location with law enforcement.
Both riders and drivers have the chance to report incidents to a 24/7 Critical Response Line as well, Lyft says. If any driver is involved in an incident, their account is immediately disabled until the issue is resolved.
“We do not tolerate harassment or violence on our platform, and such behavior can and does lead to bans from our service,” Lyft says.
As far as screening drivers before hiring them, Lyft says all applicants are screened for criminal offenses and driving incidents beforehand. Annual criminal background checks are also done by a third party and include a nationwide search, a county court records search, a federal criminal court records search and a search of the 50-state sex offender registry.
Lyft also monitors their drivers for criminal activity “continuously” and says any driver that doesn’t pass annual and continuous screenings is automatically barred from the platform.
To prevent identity fraud, Lyft says drivers are required to provide their driver’s license and a real-time photo of their face to verify their identity.