Lyft driver accused of raping female passenger in St. Louis

A Lyft driver in St. Louis raped a woman in the backseat of his car while she was drunk, authorities said.

Larry Donnell Ward, 53, of St. Peters, Missouri, was charged Thursday with kidnapping and rape in the June 22 incident after a rape kit confirmed the presence of his DNA, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Ward picked up the woman who ordered a ride from the Tin Roof Bar and then turned off his location software as he deviated from the route to her destination, according to a probable cause statement obtained by KSDK.

Ward then raped the victim in the backseat as she was inebriated, court documents show.

It’s unclear why the charges were filed nearly six months after the alleged attack, or whether Ward continued to drive for Lyft during that span. He has since been terminated from the ride-sharing app, company officials told The Post in a statement.

“Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the behavior described is appalling,” the statement read. “We have permanently removed the driver from the Lyft community and reached out to the rider to offer our support. We have been in contact with law enforcement and will continue to help in every way we can.”

A warrant has been issued for Ward’s arrest, but he was not in custody as of late Thursday, the Post-Dispatch reports.

The charges come just days after 19 women claimed in a lawsuit that they were sexually harassed, abused or raped by Lyft drivers across the country from 2017 through October.

The suit, which was filed Wednesday in San Francisco, comes on the heels of a Sept. 5 lawsuit against Lyft by 14 women who allege the company’s drivers sexually assaulted them in 2018 and 2019.

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