Gabrielle-Angelina Sirois says she was groped and propositioned for sex by a Toronto cab driver who parked outside her home and called her relentlessly. She is speaking out publicly in hopes of encouraging others to come forward.
Sirois, a Toronto model and makeup artist, said a client had sent a cab to pick her up Thursday morning but when she returned home, she says, the driver inappropriately touched her.
“As we got closer to my house he reached behind the seat and grabbed my leg. At first I thought he was trying to grab something in the pocket of the seat, but he just held it there,” she said.
“I asked him to move it and he just pretended like he couldn’t hear me and so I whipped out my phone and I took a picture and then I just forcefully removed his hand and put my legs up on the seat.”
Sirois said she remained in the cab because she was so close to her home. But the inappropriate behaviour continued.
“Then he stopped the car at the address and then asked me, he propositioned me for sexual favours and said that he would give me free cab rides,” she said, adding that she was in shock after the incident.
“I didn’t take it totally seriously at the time. Looking back it’s a little disturbing, well it’s a lot disturbing, and he stayed parked outside the house for about 20 minutes and then the phone calls started.”
Sirois said the driver called her three or four times over the next couple of hours, but she didn’t pick up. Instead, she took to Facebook to inform her friends and family what had happened and to seek advice on what to do.
Hundreds of commenters responded to the post — expressing outrage, sharing advice and in some cases blaming Sirois.
Sirois said that despite the post, the calls continued.
“He started calling me the next day even though I had already posted the Facebook post,” she said. “He continued to try to contact me — up until last night he was still calling.”
A spokeswoman from the Toronto Taxi Alliance said they became aware of the incident Thursday and identified the driver as an employee with Co-Op Cabs. She added the driver has since been suspended while the company conducts an internal investigation.
Sirois said she was scared because she felt as though the driver might retaliate after the company took disciplinary action, coupled with the fact that he knows where she lives.
“In some of the comments people have said that I should have jumped out of the car or I should have screamed but we were already so close to my house and at the time, like I said I didn’t realize how scary it was because I was in shock,” she said.
“He said that he gives lots of girls free drives if they have fun with him and I asked him what he meant by that and he said ‘sex.’”
Sirois said she was contacted by police and told Co-Op Cabs had reached out to them and that the driver was no longer on the road.
“It’s a little scary knowing that he knows where I live and I just cost him his job,” she said.
Sirois said she spoke with police and informed them she was going to take a few days to decide whether she wants to file a police report.
“I’m recovering from the shock of that and I don’t think anybody has the right to rush me into making a statement because I have time and it’s not like I’m not speaking out about it.”
Toronto police Const. Craig Brister told Global News they had received a third-party complaint about Sirois’ Facebook post from the cab company and police had commenced an investigation but without a formal complaint it remains an “untested allegation.”
“The cab company came forward on their own because they were concerned about the allegations and the press it had received,” he said.
“Right now the investigation is sort of on hold until such time as the complainant will decide whether or not she wants to proceed with an actual criminal complaint against the driver.”
John Decourcy, the city’s bylaw enforcement director, said the city had received a complaint regarding the incident and it is being investigated, which could lead to charges or the revocation of a taxi licence.
Sirois said she wishes she had gotten out of the cab when the incident happened, but added that it happened so fast she didn’t have time to think to ask the driver to pull over.
“It could happen to anyone. I wasn’t stupid because it happened to me it just happened because it happened,” she said.
“I feel like I’ve made the right decisions by me and my family and that’s the most important thing. But if I can help somebody out there, that would be ideal.”