By Sally Ho | AP
LAS VEGAS — Officials say a Las Vegas cab company looking for a woman’s cellphone found, instead, surveillance video footage of their taxi driver sexually assaulting the customer while she was passed out.
Las Vegas police announced Wednesday the arrest of 25-year-old Abdul Based, who was taken into custody Friday. He is being held at the Clark County jail on a sex assault charge.
Through police, Based declined media interviews. His attorney, Benjamin Durham, didn’t immediately respond to messages.
Lucky Cab Company owner Jason Awad said the woman called on March 8 looking for a cellphone and purse. She said she may have left her belongings behind on a recent cab ride to Henderson, just outside of the city. She’s from the area and is not a tourist.
The company in its search tracked down which cab she had been in through her credit card charge. When Lucky Cab checked that car’s video surveillance footage, they saw the woman sitting in the front, dozing off, and the driver reaching over to touch her.
Lucky Cab managers reported the incident to the taxi cab authority and the police. The company then reviewed all relevant video footage to ensure no other incidents took place.
Awad said Based denied any sexual assault had occurred. He was immediately fired from the company he had joined in January. Awad said background checks were recently done on Based, who had previously worked at another cab company.
Awad said the woman had been drinking before she got into the backseat of the cab and Based reportedly asked her to sit in the front. She told him to take her to Henderson, then dozed off. When she woke up at her destination, she gave Based the maximum tip of $40 on the charge.
“The person really did not know that he touched her improperly,” Awad said, calling it a sad situation. “He assaulted her. She was not really aware of the assault.”
Lucky Cab has about 200 vehicles, all equipped with video surveillance, and 350 drivers serving the Las Vegas area.
When Lucky Cab confronted Based, he reportedly blamed the victim then offered her money “to make it OK.” The company said they fired him, checked all other relevant video and reported the incident to the taxi cab authority and police.
When officers arrested Based, he reportedly told investigators that he was sorry and that he shouldn’t have done it because he’s married.
The woman on the day police told her of the assault reported that she had threatened Based with a baseball bat after he showed up three times to her house apologizing with flowers.