Suit: Lyft driver bound, sexually assaulted woman in alley
CHICAGO (SUN TIMES MEDIA WIRE) - A customer who says she was attacked last summer by a driver for Lyft filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court accusing its driver of false imprisonment and sexual assault and the company of negligence and fraud.
The driver, 48-year-old Angelo McCoy of the Marquette Park neighborhood, faces multiple charges in connection with the assault, according to Chicago Police.
McCoy was working as a Lyft driver when he picked the woman up shortly after 11 p.m. on July 7, according to the suit. After she got into his vehicle, McCoy canceled the ride without her knowledge and drove away from her intended destination. She fell asleep after getting into the vehicle and about 15 minutes later he pulled into a secluded alley on the city's North Side.
McCoy got into the back seat of the vehicle and took her phone before he threatened her with a knife, zip-tied her hands and repeatedly sexually assaulted her, according to the suit.
After the assault, the woman was able to escape when McCoy stopped at a busy intersection on the city's North Side, according to the suit. The woman reported the assault to police and Lyft.
McCoy was taken into custody July 19 and charged with felony counts of armed robbery, unlawful restraint, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping, police said.
Bail for McCoy was set at $900,000, according to Cook County sheriff's office records. As of Wednesday, he remained held at Cook County Jail in lieu of posting bond. He was scheduled to appear in court again Dec. 5.
"These allegations are sickening and horrifying," a spokesman for Lyft said in a previously released statement. "As soon as we were made aware of this incident, we deactivated the driver's account and did everything we could to assist law enforcement. Our concern is with the victim and her well-being. We stand ready to assist law enforcement in their investigation."
The woman says she was defrauded by the company's claims that using Lyft was a safe way for intoxicated women to get home. Lyft was aware "that numerous woman have been assaulted by Lyft drivers," yet intentionally concealed that information and represented the opposite through marketing that "aggressively" targets intoxicated female riders, according to the suit.
The woman claims such crimes by drivers are so commonplace that Lyft "has prepared and recycled on numerous occasions a canned statement expressing regret."
The Lyft spokesman said he could not comment specifically on the suit because of pending litigation against the company.
The woman also accuses Lyft and Sterling Talent Solutions -- which conducted McCoy's background check for the company -- of failing to adequately check his record before he was hired. The suit claims Lyft used inadequate background checks and "placed profits over safety by deliberately lowering the bar for drivers" in order to rapidly expand in the market.
She seeks unspecified damages against McCoy, Lyft and Sterling Talent Solutions and requests a jury trial.