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Trial begins for former Lompoc Lyft driver charged with sexual assault of passenger

Posted at 4:31 PM, Nov 19, 2019

The jury trial for a former Lyft driver from Lompoc charged with sexually assaulting a passenger is underway in San Luis Obispo.

During opening statements Tuesday morning in Jason Lamont Fenwick’s case, the prosecution argued that the alleged victim, identified only as Jane Doe, had consumed a lot of alcohol the night of Nov. 3, 2018.

She and her boyfriend, who she lived with in Nipomo, had reportedly been out drinking that night and on their way home were pulled over. He was reportedly arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Arroyo Grande police officers then called and requested a Lyft for Jane Doe. The driver, later identified as Fenwick, arrived at about 1:20 a.m., according to testimony.

As previously reported, the alleged victim reportedly told San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's officials that Fenwick helped her inside her Nipomo home. She says she then passed out, and Fenwick sexually assaulted her.

In court Tuesday, Fenwick’s defense attorney says the incident, which prosecutors say was captured on video by security cameras in nearly every room of the home, was consensual and Fenwick had a “gross error” in judgement when he went inside Jane Doe’s home.

The attorney says Jane Doe was “not that drunk,” evidenced by her not being cited for being drunk in public. He also claims she walked unassisted to the car, was having intelligible conversations with police and was able to remember things like passwords.

The prosecution says it wasn’t fully known what happened until Jane Doe’s boyfriend reviewed the surveillance tapes the following day.

The first witness called to the stand was one of two officers who pulled over Jane Doe and her boyfriend that night in 2018.

Arroyo Grande Police Officer Timothy Ramirez described to the court about his training and career. As a former paramedic, Ramirez said he has taken exams that allow him to determine whether someone is under the influence of alcohol.

Ramirez testified that they believed Jane Doe was drunk that night; however, a field sobriety test was never administered.

A lawsuit filed in July by the alleged victim against Fenwick and Lyft claims that she woke up the morning after the alleged attack bruised, naked and bleeding. According to the lawsuit, the entire assault lasted about 30 minutes.

During those 30 minutes, the lawsuit claims Fenwick snooped around the house, took several cell phone pictures of himself with the unconscious victim, and before leaving, gave himself a $20 tip through the Lyft app on her phone.

Two other alleged victims from Southern California are also mentioned in the lawsuit.

Fenwick has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault during the commission of a burglary, oral copulation of an intoxicated person, sexual penetration by a foreign object, burglary, and unlawful use of a concealed recording device.

He has been in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail since Nov. 8, 2018, according to jail logs.

Testimony in the case was expected to resume Tuesday afternoon.

Related:
Nipomo Lyft passenger speaks out about an alleged assault while using the service