Lyft driver Julio Perez was arrested last week for allegedly molesting a teenage boy who requested a ride home using the Lyft app.
According to the arrest report, the alleged molestation occurred on October 17. Perez was hailed by a 16-year-old boy via the Lyft app. He picked up the teen from his school and drove him to his home in Davie. Perez reportedly left and then returned 10 minutes later and knocked on the door.
When the teen opened the door, Perez reportedly made sexual advances and asked the teen if he liked boys. The teen was afraid Perez would forcefully enter the house, so he let him in. Perez then forced the teen to perform oral sex on him. Before he left, he gave the teen his business card and told him he’d like to give him a ride from school again, the report said.
“He knocked on the door,” Capt. Dale Engle of the Davie Police Department said in a statement. “They engaged in a conversation at the doorway. The driver was able to coerce his way to get into the residence. Once inside the residence, he forced the boy to perform oral sex on him.”
The teen told his mother about the alleged sexual battery when she got home and she called the police. He remembered Perez’s first name and other details that were included in the Lyft app. Deputies were dispatched to arrest Perez, who allegedly confessed to the crime. According to Engle, Perez thought the victim was 12 years old.
“He’s a pervert. That’s what he is. He’s a pervert,” the victim’s mother told NBC 6. “Emotionally, I’m a wreck. I haven’t gone to work in three days already. I have to go pick up my son from school every day. My son doesn’t feel safe anymore. It’s just horrible.”
In his statement to the press, Engle said Lyft was not cooperative in releasing information on Perez. But the company released a statement saying it plans to fully cooperate with law enforcement.
“We are horrified by these allegations. We deactivated the driver as soon as this was reported, and stand ready to support the passenger and his family,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “We are currently in contact with law enforcement and have offered our full assistance and cooperation.”
The victim’s mother believes Lyft should perform more stringent background checks to catch predators like Perez.
“I wish Lyft would’ve done a better background check, especially if he’s a predator,” the victim’s mother said. “I think my son had the guts and the courage to come to me and tell me everything that had happened and he is my hero. My son is my hero.”
Investigators believe there may be other victims. They’re asking parents to talk to their children and call police if they suspect they’ve been victimized.