Decatur, Georgia: Jerome Antonio Booze, a former Lyft driver has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for raping a female passenger.
After a Cobb County jury on Monday convicted a Decatur man of raping a female passenger while he was a Lyft driver, the man was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Tuesday. On Monday, the jury found Jerome Antonio Booze, 40, raped the woman, who was intoxicated at the time, on Dec. 10, 2016.
The attack occurred in the back seat of Booze’s vehicle at the victim’s apartment complex in Vinings, after Booze picked up the severely intoxicated college student from a bar in Atlanta, where she had been celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday. The victim’s friends ordered and assisted her into a Lyft around 4 a.m. because she was intoxicated and they wanted to continue celebrating.
The woman woke up the next morning and began having flashbacks of someone having sex with her, but she had no memory of the Lyft ride or getting home. She immediately told her parents she had been raped and went to Grady Hospital to be examined.
When he was interviewed by police, Booze’s story changed from first denying any sexual relations with a passenger and saying he didn’t remember having to assist her because of her level of intoxication. He later admitted they had sex, but insisted she initiated it and he didn’t know she was intoxicated, even though he said she slept during most of the drive and threw up twice in his presence. He also told police he got into the back seat with the passenger because she was attractive.
Booze testified in his own defense on Friday afternoon and told jurors that the woman held his arm down and climbed on him. He also denied having any knowledge the victim was intoxicated.
“Sir, she was vulnerable and she was at your mercy,” Cobb Superior Court Judge Ann Harris said before sentencing Booze. “You decided you were going to have sex with her, and that is rape.” After his jail term, Booze will serve life on probation as a registered sex offender.