A San Marcos man acccused of sexually assaulting a number of women while he worked for ride-hailing services pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Jeremy Vague, 37, was charged with four felony counts and faces a maximum of 17 years in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty through an attorney.
Vague is accused in the sexual assault of one victim and the sexual battery of two more, and Escondido police believe there may be additional victims.
The first incident happened Friday, September 16 at approximately 1:15 p.m. An 18-year-old student at Palomar College San Marcos campus requested a ride to an Escondido home through Uber.
The driver, identified as Vague, arrived in a blue, 2014 Chrysler minivan 7SMH182, according to Escondido Police spokesperson Justin Murphy.
Instead of taking the victim home, Vague intentionally turned off the Uber app and veered away from the route to an area where he sexually assaulted the victim, Murphy said.
After the assault, the suspect drove the rider home and dropped her off.
Vague was arrested on Friday and is being held without bail.
On Tuesday, Sept. 6 the same suspect allegedly attempted to lure another Palomar College student into his van during school hours. The woman did not feel comfortable and did not request a ride-hailing service.
During the evening on Wednesday, Sept. 7, the same suspect gave a woman a ride through the Lyft service. Vague is accused of sexually battering the 19-year-old rider and another 19-year-old female who was waiting for her.
Escondido Police say investigators were not aware of the initial report until after the Sept. 16 investigation began.
Officials say it's believed he worked for Uber for approximately three months and with Lyft for nine months.
Alexandra LaManna, a spokesperson for Lyft, told NBC 7 the company has permanently deactivated the driver's access to the platform.
"We have a strict zero-tolerance policy for any type of violent behavior, abuse or harassment," LaManna said in a written statement.
"Drivers on the Lyft platform undergo a thorough criminal background check across local, state and federal databases, that go back in time to the maximum extent allowable by California law," LaManna said.
Uber is working with law enforcement officials in their investigation.
"The driver has been banned from accessing the Uber app," the company said through a written statement.
Vague also passed Uber's background check process, the company said.
Vague had a prior criminal record in Utah, but not in California, Murphy said. He would not go into details regarding the crime but said it was not a sex crime.
NBC 7 has obtained a criminal record for a Jeremy George Vague listing a 2002 guilty plea to a vehicle theft charge.
Under California law, the maximum extent a background check can go back is seven years with a few exceptions.
Police said Vague's employment at Lyft/uber has been suspended pending investigation.
Vague is 7 feet tall, 270 pounds with tattoos on his arms and neck, Murphy said.
Vague also worked as a girls volleyball coach at Calvin Christian High School. Murphy said he is no longer employed as a coach at the school.
The Escondido Police Department is asking anyone who may recognize Vague or the circumstances to reach out to their investigators.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation can call Detective Damian Jackson at (760) 839-4932.