Lyft driver charged with kidnapping, sex assault held on bond

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. (WLS) -- A driver for Lyft who is charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a passenger in the northwest suburbs is being held on bond as of Tuesday afternoon.

Alexander Sowa, 34, appeared in bond court in Rolling Meadows Tuesday, his first court appearance for the alleged assaults. His bond was set at $10,000 with an order that he be put on electronic home monitoring if released.

However, in court it was disclosed the former Lyft driver is homeless and unable to afford the $1,000 bail he must post to be released from custody.

Lyft fired Sowa as soon as they were notified by police of the charges, and banned him from driving for them.

Sowa was working as a driver for Lyft when he allegedly picked up a female passenger on May 2 and drove her to Elk Grove Village instead of the address she requested in Des Plaines, police said.

"She was going and trying to take a safe ride somewhere and unfortunately this person victimized her," said Officer Greg Sill, Mount Prospect police.

According to police, once they arrived at a parking lot near Busse and Oakton, Sowa proceeded to sexually assault the victim. He then drove her from Elk Grove Village to a parking garage adjacent to the Mount Prospect Village Hall and library, where he sexually assaulted her again, police said.

She was able to free herself from Sowa at the parking garage at 30 S. Emerson St. and found someone to call 911 for her about 10 a.m., police said.

"She was able to get out of the vehicle and away from the driver and found someone in the parking garage to call 911," said Sill.

A spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff's Department said only two facilities in the county house any homeless who have been placed on electronic monitoring pre-trial. However, neither facility takes those charged with sexual assault, making Sowa's situation the equivalent of no bond. As such, Sowa will likely remain incarcerated until trial.

Lyft released a statement about the incident, saying, "Safety is our top priority. The behavior described is deeply disturbing and absolutely unacceptable. Immediately upon becoming aware of the allegations we permanently banned the driver from the Lyft community and reached out to the passenger to express our support. We have been in touch with law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report
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