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Former Denver Lyft driver charged with sexually assaulting multiple women

The crimes, which also include charges attempted sexual assault, stretch over nearly four years and involve at least 10 women, according to the district attorney’s office.

A former Denver Lyft driver has been charged with sexually assaulting multiple women over the course of almost four years, the district attorney said Wednesday.

John Pastor-Mendoza, 41, of Denver, allegedly assaulted or attempted to assault 10 women who had requested rides, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement.

An arrest warrant affidavit filed by Denver police detailing some of the cases says the women said they hailed rides after drinking, mostly at bars, and then awoke to being sexually assaulted.

Pastor-Mendoza was arrested Aug. 19 and was being held without bond Wednesday night, according to the arrest warrant affidavit and online jail records.

It was not clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Lyft confirmed that he had worked for the company.

“The behavior described is absolutely appalling, and the driver has been permanently removed from the Lyft community,” a Lyft spokesperson said Wednesday. “We have been in touch with law enforcement to assist with their investigation and stand ready to provide support in an ongoing capacity.”

The district attorney’s office said the assaults or attempted assaults occurred between Sept. 16, 2018, and July 9, 2022.

Pastor-Mendoza is charged with 41 counts, the district attorney’s office said, including 10 counts of kidnapping his victim to commit a sexual offense; 30 counts of either sexual assault or attempted sexual assault; and one count of robbery.

It’s not clear if Pastor-Mendoza was actually the driver hired by the victims.

In one case, a woman from Boulder requested a ride and the app showed a woman driver would be arriving. But the woman got into a car allegedly driven by Pastor-Mendoza, and when her friends told the driver to wait so they could join the ride, the car left without them when their backs were turned, the document says.

In another case cited in the affidavit, the victim requested an Uber.

Uber said Pastor-Mendoza has never been a driver for the company.

“The suspect has never used the Uber platform to drive and has never been a driver,” Uber spokesperson Navideh Forghani said in an email.

Evidence from an assault in March matched a DNA profile from evidence in two previous cases, showing it was the same man involved, the affidavit says.

In August, after police believed cases were linked, a detective contacted a Denver nightclub where some of the women had been picked up. People there recognized the description as a regular patron who was a Lyft driver and said they would report sightings to police, the affidavit says.

Days later, photos of Pastor-Mendoza at a club, his ID, and his car were sent to police, the affidavit says, but who provided them is redacted. A victim also allegedly picked his photo in a photo array, it says.

Police are asking for any other victims to come forward.

Both Lyft and Uber say that riders should confirm the license plate, vehicle and driver — and ask the driver who they are there to pick up — before getting in a vehicle.