Police Say Iowa City Cab Driver Assaulted Two Passengers

By Lee Hermiston, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A West Liberty man is accused of assaulting two women in his cab.

According to Iowa City police criminal complaints, 58-year-old Rufino Ruiz tried to fondle two women in his cab during separate incidents. Ruiz is employed by VinaSun TaxiCab, according to Iowa City police Sgt. Vicki Lalla.

In February, the department announced it was investigating three attempted sexual assaults by taxi drivers that had occurred in January and February. Lalla said that announcement prompted more victims to come forward. As a result of that investigation, police have charged Ruiz with two counts of assault for incidents that allegedly occurred in September 2013 and January 2014.

According to police, in the early morning hours of Sept. 29, the alleged victim was walking home from a friend's house in the area of the 900 block of Iowa Avenue when she was approached by a taxi. Police said the driver offered the woman a ride home. Once in the car, the driver - suspected to be Ruiz - offered the woman drugs and alcohol, which she did not take, police said.

Police said the driver said his name was Carlos and, instead of taking the woman home, drove her around instead. When they finally arrived at the woman's residence, Ruiz began touching and kissing the woman while she was trying to get her seat belt off, police said.

The second assault is alleged to have occurred at 2 a.m. on Jan. 15. Police said the victim received a ride from Ruiz from downtown Iowa City. When they arrived at the woman's home, Ruiz allegedly tried to fondle the woman and put his hands down her pants, according to the criminal complaint. Police said the woman was able to flee the cab.

Both of the alleged victims identified Ruiz as their assailant when shown a photo lineup.

Lalla said she does not know how many more victims came forward or if Ruiz is a suspect in the other taxi cab assaults police are investigating.

"The investigation into the other assaults is ongoing," she said. "He's been charged with these two because, obviously, they have enough evidence to file the charges. The investigation into the others is still ongoing."

Son Minh Nguyen, owner of VinaSun, said Ruiz no longer drives for his company. Additionally, Iowa City city clerk Marian Karr said Ruiz' license to operate a taxi in the city recently expired and he is no longer an active driver.

Assault is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
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