Taxi driver arrested for forcing himself on backseat customer

BERNE — A taxi driver arrested in May for keeping a woman in his taxi and touching her breasts without her consent is awaiting sentencing.

Umair Saleem, 29, of 17B Woodridge Circle in Clifton Park, at first denied the report by the woman when called by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, but, at the end of the conversation, said, “Sorry, officer, it will not happen again,” according to the arrest report.

He was arrested on May 2 on New Scotland Road in Slingerlands for forcible touching and unlawful imprisonment, both misdemeanors. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 12 in Berne Town Court. The case there was adjourned on July 8 for his attorney, Jeff Richards, of the Albany County Office of the Public Defender, to look into whether the sentence would impact Saleem’s immigration status; Richards said he is not a United States citizen.

Saleem and Richards declined to comment on the details of the case.

Richards said after court on July 8 that the Albany County District Attorney’s Office had made a reasonable offer that Saleem would probably accept. Spokeswoman Cecilia Walsh of the district attorney’s office declined to comment, following a policy of withholding from the press details of ongoing plea negotiations.

Police responded in early May to a report of sexual harassment by a woman who said she took a taxi driven by Saleem; when it arrived at her Berne home, the driver went into the back seat where she was and forcibly touched her breasts without her consent, the arrest report says.

The woman said she told him to leave and forced her way out of the vehicle when he did not, the report says. She said she did not want to file charges but asked police to speak to Saleem.

About a week later, the woman called the sheriff’s deputy and said that Saleem called and texted her saying he was driving to her after she placed a request for a Medicaid taxi. She then wanted to press charges.

Police took statements from Saleem and the woman. Saleem said he had a transportation request for the residence and did not know he wasn’t wanted there, according to the arrest report.

Police called the taxi service where Saleem said he worked, which confirmed that Saleem had an order to go to the victim’s home and that he was using a borrowed vehicle for the company, the report says; Saleem is under a no-contact order of protection in favor of the woman. 

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