Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 10, 2014

Convicted ex-cabbie drives into more hot water

A former Whitehorse cab driver convicted of sexually assaulting one of his passengers evaded authorities for more than two weeks before turning himself in Monday.

By Christopher Reynolds on January 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm

A former Whitehorse cab driver convicted of sexually assaulting one of his passengers evaded authorities for more than two weeks before turning himself in Monday.

Rodrigo Moreno-Torres, 42, had more time tacked onto his sentence as a consequence.

He had failed to turn himself in to authorities following the dismissal of his appeal in December.

He received three more weeks behind bars Wednesday in territorial court.

Last month, the Yukon Court of Appeal dismissed his request for an acquittal or unfair trial ruling.

Moreno-Torres’ lawyer then informed him he had to “surrender himself to custody” at 9 a.m. on Dec. 20.

“When this news occurred, he got drunk,” his lawyer told the court this week.

Moreno-Torres has had problems with alcohol in the past, he added.

“When he managed to sober up, he turned himself in.”

Moreno-Torres entered a guilty plea to “being at large ... before the expiration of a term of imprisonment.”

The 21-day sentence — added on to the 22 months remaining on his jail term — was suggested jointly by his counsel and the Crown, and accepted Wednesday by Justice of the Peace Sharman Morrison-Harvey.

He was initially released in August 2013 pending his appeal after serving eight months of the 28-month sentence.

A territorial court decision — upheld by the Court of Appeal — found last month he had non-consensual sex with an intoxicated 23-year-old woman in December 2011.

Torres had picked up the woman in his taxi after she called Quality Cabs following a night of drinking with friends in early December 2011.

He drove into a bus turn-around, parked the vehicle and sexually assaulted her in the front seat of the cab, the court heard last year.

The woman testified that he “stopped the cab, got out, and came around to the passenger’s side, where he took his pants off and then removed hers,” said appeal court Justice Kathryn Neilson.

The woman testified that she had blocked out much of what happened but that she was certain she did not want it to occur.

Moreno-Torres insisted the sex was consensual.

The identity of the victim is protected under a publication ban.

In his sentencing in October 2012, territorial court Judge Michael Cozens said women have an expectation that they will be transported safely when they call a cab company.

In Whitehorse, where the weather is cold much of the year and public transit is limited, he noted, many residents rely on taxis, particularly at night or early in the morning.

The drivers are in a position of trust, Cozens said.

Moreno-Torres, a Mexican citizen in the territory on a work permit, was seeking to avoid more jail time and eventual deportation.

“It’s really hard,” he told the Star last November at the Whitehorse courthouse while the appeal was being heard.

“I just want to close my eyes ... I don’t know how I’m still sane — friends and God, maybe.”

Originally from Puerto Vallarta, Moreno-Torres has family members in both Mexico and Whitehorse.

He has no previous criminal record.

A sentencing hearing in December 2012 centred largely around whether he would be forced out of the country after he serves his time.

A sentence of less than two years would have given him a chance to appeal his deportation with immigration officials.

A sentence of two years or longer generally rules out the option of appeal.

Inmates convicted of offences including sexual assault can apply for release on conditions and potentially wait out the appeal decision in the community, which Moreno-Torres did, and then some.

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Jan 11, 2014 at 12:28 am

A sex offender, a drunk…why are we putting up with this BS?  Call the Mexican government and arrange to let him serve his time in a Mexican prison and get his *** out of canada.

john gould

Jan 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

Get this man in the Penitentiary and when his debt to Canada is paid ship him back to Mexico where he can get on with his lifestyle and not cost our country anymore money or hurt then he already has. And here’s a question for the cops why was the public not notified that this man was on the lamb and loose in Whitehorse? Is it not in the public interest to warn them when sex offenders are on the prowl here or was the fact that you couldn’t find him more important to cover up and hide the embarrassment of losing a convicted sex offender in our community. What if this guy would have re-offended while enjoying his freedom? Who then pays that tab cause it wouldn’t be you’s just another tax paying unsuspecting Yukon citizen I guess, poorly handled.

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