JSO: Lyft driver gropes passenger

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local rideshare driver is facing charges after police said he groped a woman he was picking up for a ride.

According to the police report, Ismael Esa was arrested for battery when he made some inappropriate remarks and tried to touch a woman's chest as she was getting out of his car.

Rideshare companies have become the new age taxi, though you don’t what driver you’re getting. Many people trust the company will provide someone credible, but last week that was not the case for an unsuspecting Lyft customer.

According to police reports Esa was scheduled to pick up a young lady from her boyfriend’s house. As Esa was driving her, the two shared casual conversation and the driver even asked the victim to follow him on Snapchat.

Once the car arrived at the victim’s house, the police report states Esa told the woman “she had sexy lips” and to “come here.” He then got in the backseat, “grabbed her by her left arm and tried kiss her. Then he groped her left breast.”

The report went on to say the victim yelled, “Please get away from me” and “I have a boyfriend” to which Esa replied, “I have a girlfriend too.”

After fighting the man off, the victim was able to get out of the car and run home. That’s when police said Esa sent the victim a text message saying that he was “kind of turned on” and “he could not control it.” Police said Esa then admitted to having one or two beers before picking up the victim.

Though incidents like these are seldom, News4Jax Crime and safety Analyst Gil Smith warns to be cautious when using rideshare applications.

“These Uber type companies, they do background checks to see if the person does have a criminal back on record. But even if they don't you just never know. One thing a person could do is when they go on that app, and hire one of the drivers, the drivers’ name appears on your phone so you know who coming to get you. So you could do an additional search to see if that person has any type of criminal background or complaints against them,” Smith said.

When Lyft was contacted by police they assembled an investigation with their Trust and Safety team. Esa has been deactivated and removed from their application.

Alexandra LaManna, a spokesperson for Lyft sent this statement to News4Jax, "The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we are deeply concerned to hear about this incident.  This kind of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and the driver’s access to Lyft has been permanently removed."

News4Jax checked JSO records and Esa was released from jail after posting a $10,000 bond just hours after his arrest one week ago.