Sex assault case prompts new safeguards for senior riders

September 12, 2019 posted by


3 A WEST MICHIGAN GRANDMA IS TAKING A STAND TONIGHT – PUSHING FOR NEW SAFETY MEASURES AFTER SHE SAYS SHE WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY A VOLUNTEER DRIVER FOR SENIOR SERVICES. 3 3 BRIAN:..THAT DRIVER- A DECATUR MAN – IS SITTING IN JAIL TONIGHT – CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE CASE.BUT HIS ALLEGED VICTIM ISN’T DONE FIGHTING BACK. 3 3 SUE:..THE PAW PAW WOMAN CALLED ON SENIOR SERVICES OF VAN BUREN COUNTY TO DO MORE TO KEEP RIDERS SAFE – AND TARGET 8 INVESTIGATOR SUSAN SAMPLES WAS THERE. 3 3 “IMAGINE IF THIS WAS YOUR FAMILY MEMBER.. YOUR MOM.. YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER..” HER DAUGHTER CAME FOR SUPPORT… “OBVIOUSLY SOME POLICY CHANGES NEED TO HAPPEN..” BUT IT WAS THE 65 YEAR OLD GRANDMOTHER HERSELF WHO HAD THE MOST TO SAY… “I JUST WANT PEOPLE TO BE SAFE AND CHANGES MADE..” VAN BUREN COUNTY PROSECUTORS HAVE CHARGED ONE OF THE AGENCY’S VOLUNTEER DRIVERS – 61 YEAR OLD JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ OF DECATUR – WITH SEXUALLY ASSAULTING HIS PASSENGER WHEN HE FOLLOWED HER INTO HER APARTMENT AFTER TAKING HER TO A DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT. “I HAVE TO SIT THERE AND LOOK AT THE SPOT WHERE IT HAPPENED AT…” ACCORDING TO THE POLICE REPORT – LOPEZ – WHO’D BEEN A VOLUNTEER DRIVER FOR A YEAR – HAD ONE PRIOR COMPLAINT FROM A RIDER WHO SAID THE 61 YEAR OLD HAD ASKED HER ON A DATE… AFTER TELLING HER HIS WIFE DOES NOT SLEEP IN THE SAME ROOM WITH HIM. SENIOR SERVICES OF VAN BUREN COUNTY WOULDN’T COMMENT – SO IT’S UNCLEAR WHAT – IF ANYTHING – IT DID ABOUT THAT PRIOR COMPLAINT.WHAT IS CLEAR – LOPEZ BROKE AGENCY RULES WHEN HE KNOCKED ON HIS PASSENGER’S DOOR DAYS áBEFOREá HER APPOINTMENT – CLAIMING HE WANTED TO CONFIRM HER LOCATION. BUT THAT DIDN’T RAISE RED FLAGS WITH HER AT THE TIME – BECAUSE SHE SAYS SENIOR SERVICES NEVER TALKED TO RIDERS ABOUT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS – AND WHILE THE AGENCY SAYS IT’S NOW BEEFING THEM UP… 3 “HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE THE CHANGES. “THE ALLEGED ASSAULT HAPPENED IN EARLY APRIL… “WHY ISN’T CHANGES AFTER THIS HAPPENED TO ME?” 3 “WE HAVE FOUR PAGES OF CHANGES THAT ARE IN THE THOSE CHANGES – THE AGENCY IS TRYING TO MATCH FEMALE RIDERS WITH FEMALE DRIVERS, RIDERS WILL NOW KNOW THE MAKE, MODEL AND COLOR OF THE VEHICLE PICKING THEM UP, AND DRIVERS WILL WEAR NAME BADGES. PROGRESS – BUT NOT SOON ENOUGH – SAY THE ALLEGED VICTIM AND HER DAUGHTER.. 3 SHE RELIES ON THESE SERVICES TO GET WHERE SHE NEEDS TO BE, AND IF YOU’RE GOING TO PROVIDE THESE SERIVCES, I THINK SAFETY SHOULD BE YOUR NUMBER ONE CONCERN.” 3 SUSAN:..SENIOR SERVICES DOES DO CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECKS ON ALL ITS VOLUNTEERS.. JUAN MANUAL LOPEZ HAD A DRUNK-DRIVING CASE FROM 20 YEARS AGO AND OUT-OF-STATE BURGLARY AND THEFT CHARGES FROM 40 YEARS AGO. HIS MORE RECENT RECORD IS CLEAN AND LOPEZ’S DEFENSE ATTORNEY SAYS HIS CLIENT CATEGORICALLY AND VEHEMENTLY DENIES THE SEX ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS. I’M TARGET 8 INVESTIGATOR SUSAN SAMPLES

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