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53-year-old Lyft driver accused of raping customer in downtown St. Louis

Data pix.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - A Lyft driver from St. Peters is wanted on suspicion of rape.

Larry Ward, 53, is accused of raping a woman in the backseat of his car after picking her up in downtown St. Louis on June 22.

According to prosecutors, Ward picked the woman up at 10th and Clark near the Tin Roof Bar. He deviated from the direct route the victim requested, turned off his rideshare location software without her consent, then got into the back seat and raped her.

Prosecutors said she was intoxicated and unable to consent to sex.

Ward was charged with felony rape and kidnapping.

Lyft has drawn legal fire for not sharing information about its drivers with customers. When customers use the phone app to arrange a ride, they know nothing about the driver who’s coming to pick them up.

Company officials have said its drivers are continually subject to criminal background checks. Still, riders say not enough is being done and 20 riders in California just filed suit against Lyft this week, claiming they were sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers.

At least 55 people have reportedly joined lawsuits against Lyft since August.

“Lyft has allowed drivers who have sexually assaulted and raped their customers and their passengers to continue driving under their app and platform,” said Mike Bomberger, an attorney for the 20 plaintiffs in the new California case.

A Lyft spokesman issued a statement saying:

"Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the behavior described is appalling. 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."

Fox 2/News 11 have yet to get an answer as to how long Ward continued to drive for Lyft after the alleged rape in June. He remained at large as of early Thursday evening.

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