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Lyft driver accused of sexually assaulting passenger

Tigistu Ergo willingly submitted DNA, and there was "very strong support" it matched evidence from the victim, according to an affidavit.
Credit: alex_schmidt_13 - stock.adobe.com

BOULDER, Colo. — A man who drove for the ride-sharing service Lyft has been arrested in connection with the 2018 sexual assault of a woman that he picked up through the app, according to an arrest affidavit from the Boulder Police Department (BPD).

Tigistu Ergo, 27, was arrested last month on charges of sexual assault and kidnapping related to an incident in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, 2018.

Just before 3 a.m. that morning, officers with BPD were dispatched to a report of a sexual assault.

On the evening prior, the victim said she had been drinking with two friends in downtown Denver and had been picked up at a bar with the intention of returning to her home in Boulder, the affidavit says.

RELATED: Lyft driver found not guilty in Boulder sexual assault trial

The victim said the Lyft driver picked her up and drove her "around" and "repeatedly refused to take her to Boulder," according to the affidavit.

She said the driver "solicited her" for sex, but was unsure if any sexual contact occurred before she was eventually dropped off at her boyfriend's apartment in Boulder. She said her phone, wallet and keys were also missing.

On Aug. 15, police were notified by the victim about a "suspicious" phone number on her phone, the affidavit says. She said she found the number after purchasing a new phone and having the SIM card transferred.

On that same day, a BPD detective called that number and reached Ergo. He told the detective he was a driver for Lyft and had also driven for Uber. Ego said his Uber account was deactivated about a week prior after he ran a stop sign, the affidavit says.

Ergo also told the detective he "knew why" he was contacting him, because a female rider had "lost her phone" the week before, according to the affidavit.

When he told Ergo the woman had reported "some type of sexual interaction", Ergo "appeared shocked," and responded with, "I have a girlfriend," the affidavit says.

The detective told Ergo he could eliminate himself as a potential suspect by providing DNA, and he quickly agreed to do so.

His DNA was compared to the evidence collected from a SANE exam of the victim.

The results came back on May 23, 2019, and an analyst found "very strong support" that the DNA profile matched.

In June 2019, Lyft was sent a warrant from BPD to provide the ride history of Ergo between the evening of Aug. 7, 2018 and the early morning hours of Aug. 8, 2018.

The ride log showed that Ergo picked up the victim in Denver around 10:17 p.m. on Aug. 7 and the ride lasted nearly 30 minutes and ended in Denver. Ergo did not pick up another passenger until 1:08 a.m. on Aug. 8, and that was his last ride until midday on Aug. 8, according to the affidavit.

There is no documentation that Ergo traveled to Boulder, although the victim's boyfriend said she was dropped off in a vehicle that matches the description of Ergo's car, the affidavit says.

It would take about an hour to drive from Boulder to Ergo's last pickup location and about 45 minutes of his time is unaccounted for, the affidavit says.

A spokesperson for Lyft provided the following statement:

Safety is fundamental to Lyft. The behavior described is unacceptable, and we have permanently removed the driver from the Lyft community. We have been in contact with law enforcement and will continue to help in every way we can.

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