Man who posed as D.C. taxi cab driver convicted of raping passengers

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

A District man who posed as a cabbie has been found guilty of raping women who hailed his fake taxi for a ride.

Emero Tornero, 32, was found guilty Monday of multiple counts of kidnapping and sexual abuse with aggravating circumstances and related firearms offenses.

According to prosecutors, Tornero picked up three women who hailed his fake taxicab in a series of incidents from 2005 and 2008. He trapped them inside the vehicle -- which was rigged so the back doors and windows would not open from the inside -- then drove them to secluded areas and raped them, prosecutors said.

Tornero faces a potential sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

"Emero Tornero is a serial rapist whose shocking brutality forever changed the lives of three women who just needed a cab ride," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr.

Tornero is already serving a 24-year prison sentence for a bizarre set of attacks on more than a dozen cab drivers in the District several years ago. Tornero used a knife and his car to attack Maryland and Virginia cab drivers working in the District, whom he believed were taking fares from his illegal taxi business.

After his arrest in the well-publicized attacks of the taxi cab drivers, Tornero was linked to the sexual assault cases through DNA samples taken from the scenes of the rapes and a robbery, according to charging papers.

The first attack linked to Tornero happened in May 2005, when a 23-year-old mother with her 3-year-old daughter hailed his taxi at Ninth and N streets NW. He drove the mother and child to a secluded area, threw the child into the front seat and raped the woman in the back seat, prosecutors said.

In January 2006, Tornero picked up a woman in Takoma Park, drove her to a parking lot behind a church at 6210 Chillum Place NW, and raped the woman at gun and knifepoint, court papers said.

In November 2008, Tornero picked up an extremely drunk 29-year-old woman from a nightclub on 14th Street NW. The woman passed out in the vehicle, and Tornero raped her while she was unconscious, according to prosecutors.

In 2010, while Tornero awaited trial for the taxi cab attacks, investigators took DNA samples that matched him to two of the sexual assaults and a 2008 robbery of an employee of a D.C. bar.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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