Cab drivers are trusted with a sacred responsibility in our society. They must drive our drunkest and most helpless citizens home when these individuals are well past the point of being able to take care of themselves. Cabbies are the modern Charon, ferrying souls across the river Budweiser so that they arrive safely to their appointed hangovers from hell.

Cabbies who violate this trust should be hunted down and punished with the full force of the law. If you can’t trust an immigrant stranger to take care of you and your belongings when you are too drunk to stand, let alone defend yourself, then the whole system breaks down.

A lawyer and local New Orleans celebrity got drunk and sloppy coming home from Bourbon Street. She alleges that her cab driver took advantage of her by recording upskirt pictures of her and her junk, then tried to extort her for money in exchange for the photos.

I know what you’re all thinking: “Why can’t this kind of thing happen to Nancy Grace?” Sometimes life’s not fair. But despite her embarrassment, this attorney did the right thing and went to the police, and now the cabbie is under arrest…

The story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune is a bit complicated, and it’s going to anger a lot of date-rape apologists who act like any woman whose BAC spikes over .100 is community property. The lawyer admits that she was drunk coming home and started flirting with and even kissed the cab driver. From NOLA.com:

At some point during the ride, [cab driver Hervey] Farrell pulled over, [the victim] said, took out his cellphone and began taping her. She said she was in no state to be aware of how exposed she was; in fact, she said, she was unaware that he was filming anything at all.

“I was confused, and I touched his arm and asked him what happened, why he had stopped kissing me,” she said. At that point, the woman said, Ferrell got visibly upset and exclaimed that he had not kissed her, and that he was a “loving and devoted boyfriend.”

“He kept on saying, ‘No, don’t touch me,’ and then he just dropped me off,” the woman told police.

Later, the cab driver filed charges against the lawyer — who also hosts a local talk show — charging her with battery. Later, she alleges that he offered to make the lawsuit and the pictures go away for $60,000. Then, he dropped the price to $1,000.

She went to the police. She believed that she was being targeted because of her local celebrity. The cab driver eventually dropped the charges, and now he’s been arrested for extortion and voyeurism.

Now, I didn’t know “voyeurism” was a crime in New Orleans. But I guess that’s how they enforce their beads-for-tits economy.

Extortion, however, is a universal principle that should be punished when it happens.

I know that this case is a bit messy; the lawyer/talk show host did put herself in an awkward situation. But I guess I can really empathize with this woman. I myself have a bit of minor notoriety, and I also like alcohol. I’ve woken up with no shoes, no pants, and no memory of how I got home (this seems like a good time to remind people to send in their suggestions for the ATL/Kaplan bar crawl).

But being drunk and, you know, pants-less, doesn’t mean my cab fare should cost $1,000. Take the sex out of it — it wouldn’t be right for a cabbie to photograph me and then try to get money out of me for the pictures, no matter how slobberingly intoxicated I happened to be.

Whether or not this lady put herself in a good situation, she didn’t “ask” to be taken advantage of.

UPDATE (10/2/2013, 2 p.m.): Law enforcement authorities now allege that the woman in question, Jennifer Gaubert, made the story up.

Taxi driver shoots lewd video of customer in cab, then tries extortion, cops say [Times-Picayune]


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