A Lyft driver accused of sexually assaulting a woman he was driving from Denver to Boulder in 2018 had his trial pushed back to the summer. Tigistu Belete Ergo, 28, pleaded not guilty in August to second-degree kidnapping with a sexual offense and sexual assault. Ergo had been set for a trial starting March 15, but online court records show he is now set for a five-day trial starting June 21. He also has a motions hearing set on May 4. Ergo remains out of custody on a $1,000 cash bond. According to an affidavit, a woman called police in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, 2018, and said she believed she had been sexually assaulted by her Lyft driver. The woman said she had been drinking in Denver with friends when a friend ordered her a ride. However, the woman became sick in the car, and the driver dropped her off in Denver and she ordered another Lyft. The woman said she remembered the driver taking her “around” and complaining about taking her all the way to Boulder before he solicited her for oral sex. The woman said she did not remember the assault, but she underwent a sex assault examination that did find male DNA, according to the affidavit. According to the affidavit, the woman remembered the driver dropping her off in Boulder before he “sped away.” Police said the woman also lost her phone, wallet and keys in the incident. When the woman bought a new phone, her number showed a call from Ergo. When police interviewed Ergo, he said he had given the woman and her friend a ride but denied having sex with anyone, and gave a DNA sample to police. In May 2019, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation found Ergo’s DNA matched the DNA found on the woman. Police pulled Ergo’s ride records, which showed that Ergo had dropped off the woman’s friend in Denver at 10:43 p.m. the night of the alleged assault but did not enter any information about a ride to Boulder, and did not pick up any other fares until 1:08 a.m. the next day in Denver. Counting driving time, a Boulder police detective wrote in the affidavit that there was “approximately 45 minutes that Ergo’s location is unaccounted for.” According to the affidavit, Ergo had only been driving with Lyft for about a week when the alleged assault occurred, after being deactivated from Uber because of a driving complaint.

*By Mitchell Byars, Daily Camera*

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