North County Uber, Lyft driver arrested in Sexual Assault Investigation


BREAKING: An 18-year-old Palomar College student was allegedly sexually assaulted by the Uber driver when she requested a ride home.

By Maggie Avants (Patch Staff) - September 21, 2016 6:55 pm ET 

ESCONDIDO, CA — A former local girls basketball coach and one-time high school and college star basketball player was behind bars Wednesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting female fares while working as a commercial ride-share driver in northern San Diego County.

Jeremy George Vague, 37, former girls basketball coach at Calvin Christian High School in Escondido, was booked into county jail in Vista last weekend on suspicion of kidnapping with intent to commit robbery or rape, forcible sexual penetration and assault with the intent to commit a felony, according to Escondido police.

Vague was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The San Marcos resident — who is 7 feet tall and weighs 270 pounds, according to jail records — allegedly assaulted at least two women he picked up for rides while working as a driver for Lyft and Uber, Lt. Justin Murphy said.

One alleged victim was an 18-year-old Escondido resident who requested an Uber ride on Friday, Sept. 16, from Palomar College in San Marcos.

"Instead of taking her to her residence, he turned off his Uber app and took her to another location and sexually assaulted her," Murphy told reporters during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. " ... He was arrested at his home later the same evening."

During the course of investigating that case, Murphy said Escondido police learned that Vague was at Palomar College on Sept. 6 and allegedly tried to lure a female student into the car. The student did not need a ride and had not requested one, so she reported it to campus police — who told Vague not to return to campus, Murphy said.

In another incident, a 19-year-old Escondido woman who received a ride from Vague was allegedly sexually battered when they arrived at her residence. Vague reportedly asked her if she wanted to take a photo with him, at which time he allegedly touched her and her 19-year-old female friend inappropriately, Murphy said.

Investigators believe there may be additional victims who have not come forward.

Vague drives a 2014 blue Chrysler minivan with license plate 7SH182, according to Murphy, who added that Uber and Lyft have been cooperative with the investigation and that Vague has been suspended from his employment with both companies pending the outcome of the case. Vague worked for Uber for three months and Lyft for about nine months, Murphy said.

Escondido police have taken Vague's van into custody and are processing it for evidence.

As a student athlete, Vague was a second-team All-Coast Conference basketball player at Canada College in Redwood and set scoring and shot-blocking records for San Marcos High School, where he was twice named most valuable player, and for the Utah State University Aggies, according to the latter team's website.