PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A jury on Friday convicted a cab driver of sexually abusing a passenger.
Hossein Tajipour, 72, was taken into custody immediately after the jury's unanimous guilty verdict was announced. He had been out on bail.
The jury found Tajipour guilty of three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count each of first-degree sodomy and coercion.
During trial, Multnomah County Deputy District Jeff Auxier said Tajipour picked up a University of Portland student on Feb. 15, 2015 on North Columbia Boulevard. The woman had not ordered a cab. She was walking down the road without any shoes after leaving a party. Tajipour stopped and offered her a ride.
The woman told detectives with the Portland Police Bureau Sex Crimes Unit that Tajipour told her he could not locate her address in his taxi's GPS system and asked her to come to the front seat of his cab so she could give him better directions.
Once the woman was in the front seat, Tajipour seemed to be driving around for an unusually long amount of time, Auxier said during trial. Tajipour reached over and started touching the woman's breasts, slid his hands under her pants and touched her vagina and then exposed his penis.
PPB Sex Crime Detective Nathan Wollstein was able to identify Tajipour as the driver using the cab company's GPS records. Images from the cab's in-vehicle surveillance system were obtained. The system periodically takes photos inside the cab. Investigators said the photos corroborate the woman's claim of unwanted sexual contact.
Defense council for Tajipour admitted that Tajipour did in fact stop and pick up the woman who was walking down the road. Tajipour's attorney claims that Tajipour offered to assist the woman. They also agree that there was sexual contact and oral sex between them. However, the defense's position was that all of the sexual contact was consensual.
Tajipour will be sentenced on Feb. 8.
Broadway Cab President Raye Miles released the following statement after the verdict:
- Our greatest concern with this incident is for the victim of the alleged crime.
- We have fully cooperated with law enforcement in this investigation and, in fact, used our GPS system to identify our vehicles in the vicinity of the incident that night to ultimately identify the driver. We then provided the Portland Police Bureau with the taxicab's camera to support the investigation.
- We terminated the contract of the driver allegedly involved in this incident as soon as we confirmed his identity, on February 20, 2015.
- The involved driver had a valid permit issued by the City of Portland. As is the case for all of Portland's cab drivers, permit retention hinges on an annual review by the City of Portland, and an updated city-mandated background check that goes back 10 years.
- Passenger and driver safety are our top concerns – this is why thorough background checks are a priority for us.
In a statement provided to KOIN 6 News, Tajipour's family stated:
"Today, I saw my father get convicted on Measure 11 charges where visible evidence indicated that the allegations were false. The case was corrupted by suggestive eyewitness procedures, racist remarks, coercive interrogations, unexamined objective science analysis, shoddy investigative practices, and cognitive biases. In addition, prosecution failed to sustain its burden of proof regarding the crime charged, and thus my father's motion for judgment of acquittal was wrongfully denied. ... Our judicial system has failed miserably. My father has been wrongfully convicted."