Police Caution Uber Passengers After Woman Sexually Assaulted

Hamden police said a woman thought she had jumped in an Uber car for a safe ride home but she was horribly wrong.

Instead police said the man behind the wheel would soon viciously sexually assault her.

A woman told police she left Toad's Place in New Haven in late January and thought she would take an Uber home. What the woman didn't know when she got picked up was the 29-year-old Ahmad Bahjat was masquerading as an Uber driver, police said.

"I think it was clear that his motive was to commit a sexual assault," said Captain Ronald Smith, Hamden Police Department.

They said Bahjat stopped in a parking lot and attacked the woman.

"He viciously sexually assaulted her," said Smith.

After the assault, Bahjat left the victim near her home.

At Yale-New Haven Hospital in the early hours of Jan. 31, the woman was treated and told detectives the horrifying story.

Soon police said they zeroed in on their suspect but Bahjat had already fled to Toronto, then Turkey and finally Jordan.

It was not until he flew back to the U.S. about two weeks ago, Customs and Border Protection stopped and held Bahjat.

"(Friday) morning our detectives went to New York where we arrested him and transported him to Hamden Police headquarters," Smith said.

Bahjat faces charges including sexual assault and kidnapping.

He’s being held on a $500,000 bond and is due in court on Mar. 11.

Police said Bahjat is a refugee from Iraq who has been living in this country for a few years.

Police and Uber warn potential passengers to only take rides you’ve requested and double check the driver’s information.

Riders said generally they feel safe.

"Yes I do as long as you’re with a group of people and you check the license plate number and the driver’s picture," said Emily Buyak of New Haven.

"Especially if I’m going by myself I’ll have my friend walk out with me," said Kara Sitnik of Wethersfield.

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