There has been a lot of unfair criticism lodged against companies like Uber and Lyft, for their criminal background checks. Yet, we know that name-based criminal background checks from the private sector are more comprehensive than FBI or other fingerprint checks. After all, FBI Assistant Director Stephen Morris said that “[t]he misnomer is that FBI has everything that exists on criminal history records in some big repository, and that’s simply not true.”
Too much focus has paid to a few transportation network company drivers who might commit a crime, but not enough attention has been paid to taxi drivers who also commit crimes. For example,
In August 2014, a Delaware taxi driver, Khalid Chablaouri, 30, of New Castle, surrendered to police and was charged with fourth-degree rape stemming from an incident on Aug. 2014. A woman flagged down Mr. Chablaouri as she was leaving the Lighthouse bar and restaurant in Dewey Beach around 9 p.m. According to news accounts, during the ride to the woman’s home, the woman “fell asleep and was awakened by ‘the driver’s hand inside her underwear,’ police said in court records.” Terri Sanginiti, Woman sexually assaulted in taxi, policy say, Delaware News Journal, Aug. 25, 2014.
In November 2015 in Hawaii, Enio Ruben Tablas, 54, a “taxicab driver who was convicted of sexually assaulting a passenger in July 2014 is no longer allowed to drive a cab in Honolulu because he was recently convicted “of two counts of third-degree sexual assault.” The story also notes that “Tablas has been charged in another sexual assault case involving a passenger, but no trial date has been set in that case.” How Mr. Tablas came to be behind the wheel of a taxi is a problem itself given his prior criminal record. The story noted that
[t]he charges against Tablas were highlighted in a September Honolulu Star-Advertiser series on the city’s oversight of the taxi industry. Although Tablas has past convictions for theft, driving with a suspended or revoked license due to DUI, failure to take a chemical test and numerous traffic violations in California and Hawaii, he was allowed to get a taxi license because the city’s criminal background checks go back only two years and are limited to Hawaii.
Dana Williams, City pulls license of cabbie guilty of sexual assault, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Nov. 24, 2015. See, also, Allison Schaefers and Dana Williams, Remember Me – I’m the Red Cab, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Sept. 21, 2015.
In Pennsylvania, on March 8 2016, a
27-year-old woman told Philadelphia police that she was sexually assaulted by a Freedom Taxi driver…near the Barbary in Northern Liberties. The victim told investigators she climbed into the red-and-blue cab outside of the bar, on Frankford Avenue near Allen Street, at about 12:30 a.m. The driver pulled over a short while later and entered the backseat to help her find her cell phone. He then allegedly digitally penetrated her, police said. The victim described the driver as a stocky black man who was about 40- to 50-years-old and wore a brown jacket. Police had no additional information about the incident.
David Gambacorta, Police: Woman Sexually Assaulted by Taxi Driver in Northern Liberties; A woman says she was sexually assaulted by a Freedom Taxi cabbie near the Barbary, Philadelphia Magazine, March 8, 2016, http://www.phillymag.com/news/2016/03/08/police-woman-sexually-assaulted-by-taxi-driver-in-northern-liberties/#Er9wfCIFggCYYstI.99
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More