Ater an evening out on July 1, a woman at the Knight’s Pub near the University of Central Florida used the Lyft app to request a ride home.
But police say the driver took her to his house instead, forced her out of the gray Dodge Grand Caravan minivan and sexually battered her.
Orlando police on Wednesday arrested Peter Roger Solomon, 49, on charges of sexual battery and kidnapping. Police think there may be other victims and are asking them to come forward.
It took three months to make an arrest in part because Lyft, the California-based ride-sharing app maker, did not quickly respond to OPD’s subpoena asking for information that would help them identify the driver, said Sgt. Tami Edwards, head of the Orlando Police Special Victim’s Unit.
The victim had the driver’s first name and a small photo of him from the app, which was not enough information to positively identify him.
“Lyft complied with the subpoena, but it was only after a second subpoena was sent, which is why we have a delay in identifying the suspect,” Edwards said Thursday. “Det. [Shane] Overfield reached out to Lyft before he even sent the first subpoena to try to make sure the information was correct, and to not have a delay.”
Alexandra LaManna, a spokeswoman for Lyft, said the company is cooperating with police and has permanently banned Solomon from driving for the company.
“We have a strict zero-tolerance policy for any type of violent behavior, abuse or harassment and as soon as we learned about this incident, we permanently banned the driver from accessing the Lyft platform,” LaManna said.
The woman remembered the assault in great detail, Edwards said, and recordings of two 911 calls she made that night helped investigators reconstruct Solomon’s path, police said.
Solomon pulled up to the Knight’s Pub in a gray Dodge Grand Caravan at 10:30 p.m. and the woman got inside, police said. But instead of heading to her house, Solomon drove to a “rundown single-story home,” records show.
She told police he forced her inside and then sexually battered her in a bedroom. She tried to escape through a side door, but he chased her down, forced her back into the bedroom and threatened to hurt her, the report states.
She told police about an overgrown lawn, messy yard and poorly maintained house. There were two other men in a living room, she said, and she remembered Solomon speaking Spanish to them before forcing her into a bedroom. Police have not identified those men.
Several hours later, the woman managed to call 911 without the suspect noticing. She talked with a dispatcher for a moment and left the line open with the phone hidden at her side, police said.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies traced the call to the area of Forsyth Road and Muskogee Street, but weren’t able to find the woman, police said.
She eventually hung up on the dispatcher, fearing Solomon might notice, according to the report. He then forced her back into his van, police said. The woman called 911 again and, in a conversational tone, called out landmarks they were passing as she asked Solomon where he was going to drop her off.
Solomon drove to the AutoZone at Semoran Boulevard and Colonial Drive, and made her get out.
The woman then called her parents, who picked her up. She met with police later that day and gave detectives detailed descriptions of the suspect, his vehicle and the home where he took her.
Police got a warrant and on Wednesday arrested Solomon on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and sexual battery. He is being held in the Orange County Jail without bail.
Edwards said during a press conference that ride-sharing passengers can protect themselves by taking a picture of the driver and car they are riding in, and asking to see the driver’s license.
In today’s world, she said, “We’re meeting strangers and exposing ourselves to a lot of dangers.”
Reposted from: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-lyft-driver-arrest-sex-battery-20160929-story.html