A taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting a Winnipeg woman in June is relieved to learn the Winnipeg police have cleared him of of any involvement.
Last month, Michelle Hanslip told CBC News she was assaulted and left mostly naked, covered in cuts and bruises, blocks from her home on the morning on Sunday, June 12, after hailing a Unicity Taxi.
Injured and unclear what happened, she went to the hospital the following day and called the police.
A Winnipeg police spokesperson confirmed Tuesday the taxi driver who drove Hanslip that night has now been cleared of any wrongdoing. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, the spokesperson said.
The driver, Navmeet Kang, says the allegations have been tough to take because friends, family and passengers have been questioning him.
“It’s every day, it’s every minute it’s right [over] your head. You keep on going, ‘What’s going to happen? What’s going to happen?’ Because nobody’s going to listen to your side of the story,” he said.
“Now, it’s a peace of mind.”
Kang says Hanslip and another passenger in the taxi were intoxicated, but were physically fine while they were in his presence. They even left him a tip after he dropped them off, he said.
Hanslip said she had taken the cab with her ex-partner.
According to Unicity Taxi’s records, including video surveillance and a global positioning system that tracks how long a taxi stays in a single location, nothing happened while Kang and the passengers were in the vehicle.
Unicity president Tarlochan Gill says the company has faced some blowback following the allegations.
“The Winnipeggers who are regularly using our cabs, it may be they’re thinking they are not safe in their cabs, but there is a camera. It records audio and videos. They are safe. Nothing happened,” he said.
Gill says the company has been co-operating with police and wants to ensure passengers are safe.
“[If] we received any complaint from any customer, we take very seriously. If our driver would have done that, he would have lost his job,” he said.
“All drivers know that this is their bread and butter. They are working for their families. They will never do these kind of things because we are dependent on our customers.”
‘My apologies to him’: victim
Ally Siatecki, a media relations assistant with the Winnipeg Police Service’s public information office, says investigators have reviewed the footage. She wouldn’t say what they saw because it’s part of an ongoing investigation.
A City of Winnipeg spokesperson says its vehicles for hire office has also concluded its investigation into this incident and determined that no violations occurred.
Hanslip is apologetic for insinuating that Kang assaulted her, but says she honestly believed it to be true at the time.
“I don’t know what that truth is, but someone knows. I just wish someone would come forward because all I wanted to do was go home … and I never made it,” she said in a statement to CBC News.
“I am thankful knowing there are cab drivers who can be trusted. My apologies to him.”
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.
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