Woman claims cabbie grabbed her breasts

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:45pm

A Nashville taxi driver faces charges of sexual battery and aggravated burglary after one of his fares claimed the cabby groped her breasts.

Melaku Mengistu, 53, picked up the alleged victim early Sunday morning outside of Tribe, a bar on Church Street, after she flagged him down for a ride home, according to an arrest warrant.

When they arrived at the victim’s apartment, she said she needed to go get cash from inside and told Mengistu he could wait outside the apartment.

When she closed the door, Mengistu allegedly opened the door, walked over to the woman and grabbed her breasts through her clothing. The woman told police she gave the man a $20 bill and screamed for him to leave her apartment.

A Berry Hill police officer spotted Mengistu a short time later and arrested him as he stopped at an ATM so another fare could withdraw cash.

In an unrelated incident, Metro police reported Friday that authorities in New York City arrested another Nashville cab driver as he flew back into the U.S. from his home in Ghana, Africa.

Metro police Sex Crimes Detective Rob Carrigan identified Joseph Newton, 46, as the man who allegedly raped a 27-year-old Franklin woman after obtaining a voluntary DNA swab from Newton and interviewing him about the incident.

According to police, DNA analysis by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory linked Newton to semen recovered from the victim’s body, which allegedly happened inside Newton’s Allied cab near Hillsboro Pike and Interstate 440 early on Nov. 18, 2009.

Newton denied assaulting the victim. Police expect to return Newton to Nashville soon to face the rape charge.