A Metro Mobility driver sexually assaulted a passenger he picked up at a group home one recent morning in Maple Grove, using an umbrella to shield the crime from the vehicle’s onboard surveillance cameras, according to authorities.
Prosecutors say the 23-year-old woman, who has the delayed age development of a 12- to 14-year-old, told investigators that the man had sexually penetrated her with his hand on Nov. 3 and that he also had sexually assaulted her a week earlier.
Segundo D. Aucapina, 44, of Minneapolis, was charged Monday in Hennepin County District Court with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and he remains jailed in lieu of $150,000 bail ahead of a court appearance Thursday.
Metro Mobility, operated by the Metropolitan Council, provided nearly 2 million door-to-door rides last year in the Twin Cities area to people with disabilities and elderly people. The council contracts out the service in the western portion of the metro area to privately operated Transit Team Inc. of Minneapolis.
Aucapina started driving for Transit Team seven months ago after his pre-hire criminal background check came back clean, said company Vice President Stacie Richter. In the wake of this allegation, Transit Team “made the decision to end the employment relationship,” Richter said.
The company’s “highest priority is always the safety and well-being of each and every one of our passengers,” Richter said. “… We care deeply for our passengers.”
Drivers of what the state considers a “special transportation vehicle” must meet certain legal qualifications, such as being physically fit, having the proper driver’s license for the class of vehicle and being at least 15 years past disposition of a serious crime. In Aucapina’s case, state records show offenses no more serious than minor traffic violations and misdemeanors in 2009 related to operating a limousine.
Umbrella over cameras
According to the complaint:
Surveillance video from Nov. 3 showed the woman boarding an otherwise-empty bus.
An automated vehicle locator showed the bus went off-course twice that morning. Aucapina drove to a gas station, where both got out and returned with doughnuts and something to drink. He then drove and parked in “a secluded location,” the court document read.
Aucapina sat next to the woman and opened an umbrella in front of surveillance cameras. Sounds of kissing were heard.
After 10 minutes, Aucapina removed the umbrella and the victim was seen on the video fixing “her disheveled shirt,” according to the complaint.
Next passenger helps
Aucapina picked up another passenger, and the victim gave her a thumbs-down sign. The second passenger told officers that the bus was 30 minutes late.
After boarding, the second passenger noticed that the victim was upset, and the victim handed her a note revealing the assault. The second passenger gave the woman a cellphone to report what happened.
Two days later, the victim was taken to CornerHouse, a Minneapolis nonprofit that trains police officers, social workers and child-protection officers to interview children and others who have been sexually abused.
The woman said Aucapina fondled her breasts with his hand and mouth, penetrated her digitally, and forced her to touch his penis. He also kissed his victim so hard on the mouth that her lip was injured.
Prosecutors did not reveal the location of the victim’s group home or where in Maple Grove the bus was parked when the alleged assault occurred.
The victim added that the alleged sexual assault by Aucapina a week before had occurred after he bought her food at a restaurant.