‘Neighborhood taxi driver’ charged with fondling teenage girl for years in Florida

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A ‘neighborhood taxi driver’ is charged with kidnapping and fondling a teenage girl for three years, Florida authorities have said.

The 16-year-old girl and her mother reported the incidents to the Haines City Police Department on June 21, the department said in a news release.

The girl was around 13 when she started taking a ride from Lorenzo De Jesus-Lopez, 43, on occasion, police said. Over the three years, Jesus-Lopez groped her thighs and asked her to have sex with him twice, police said.

During the incidents, the driver “touched her breasts” after telling him to pull over, according to police.

Jesus-Lopez is also accused of driving the girl to a “dark construction site against her will” twice, according to the statement. Once parked, Jesus-Lopez got into the back seat with the victim and tried to convince her to have sex with him, according to police.

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“She told him, unequivocally, that she didn’t want him to touch her and asked him to take her home,” police said. “On one occasion, he offered to pay her $600 for sex. The girl said she told him to “stop” and “walk me home”.

After the girl was reported, officers found Jesus-Lopez at his home on the evening of June 21 and took him to the police department, the statement said.

Jesus-Lopez initially denied the incidents but later said he touched the victim’s breast once in the construction site parking lot, police say.

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Jesus-Lopez faces two counts of committing an unnatural or lascivious act, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of assault and battery and one count of soliciting prostitution, according to the statement. He was incarcerated in Polk County Jail.

Police did not list attorney information for him.

Haines City Police Acting Chief Loyd Stewart praised the teenager for speaking up about the situation and encouraged the public to be careful who they choose to take rides on.

“Anyone who thinks it’s okay to prey on our city’s youth like this should know that we have a rideshare program just for you. But it’s going straight to Polk County Jail,” Stewart said in the communicated.

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If anyone has any information of similar incidents involving the driver, please contact the Haines City Police Department.

Haines City is about 80 km southwest of Orlando.

If you have been sexually assaulted and need someone to talk to, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline for help at 1-800-656-4673 or visit the hotline’s online chat room.

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