Lyft driver accused of sexually assaulting passenger in 2018

Rimon Kazzoo | CPD

Prosecutors today charged a Chicago man with sexually assaulting a female passenger who fell asleep in the back seat of his Lyft vehicle in December 2018.

Rimon Kazzoo, 37, is charged with felony criminal sexual assault by force. Judge Arthur Willis set bail at $1 million.

The alleged attack occurred after the 26-year-old victim and a friend left a bar on the 1500 block of North Wells in Old Town. The friend summoned separate Lyft rides for herself and for her friend around 10:15 p.m. on December 5, 2018, according to a police report. 

Kazzoo soon arrived in a car that matched vehicle information provided by the Lyft app, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in bond court Thursday.

The victim told police that she fell asleep in the back seat as the car neared the intersection of 31st Street and Wentworth. Her next memory is waking up while Kazzoo sexually assaulted her in the back seat of his car around 11:05 p.m., according to Murphy and CPD records. 

She escaped from the car after striking Kazzoo and scratching his neck, Murphy said. Outside the vehicle, the woman realized that she was across the street from her home and her pants had been pulled down around her ankles.

Murphy said the woman took swabs of her own fingernails because she knew she scratched the offender. The next morning, she realized that she left her phone in Kazzoo’s car and she found her underwear lying in the street where she exited the Lyft vehicle, according to Murphy.

The woman outcried to the friend who ordered the Lyft ride the night before. She also gave her father more complete details of the incident after providing him with some initial information immediately after the attack. Murphy said she did not fully brief her father the night before because her 11-year-old sister was nearby. A sexual assault kit was collected at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Murphy said the victim identified Kazzoo in a photo line-up as the man who attacked her. Kazzoo also reportedly dropped off the woman’s phone at a Lyft operations office.

His DNA was found in the victim’s private areas and on the clothing she wore on the night of the alleged attack, according to Murphy. 

When police arrested Kazzoo on Wednesday, he denied ever touching the victim sexually, Murphy said.

“Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and what the rider described is unacceptable,” a spokesperson for the company said Thursday. “We responded immediately, banning this driver from the Lyft community and working with law enforcement. We have also been in contact with the rider to offer support.”

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