Jitney driver charged with Pittsburgh rape

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A jitney driver from Lincoln-Lemington was arrested early Tuesday morning on charges that he raped a female passenger.

Eric Pace, 34, denied the allegations. He was being held Tuesday in the Allegheny County Jail on charges of rape, sex assault, indecent assault and other offenses.

Pittsburgh police were called to the 1500 block of Fifth Avenue in the Bluff shortly before 3 a.m. for a report that a woman had been sexually assaulted by a jitney driver in a burgundy Ford.

The woman said she had the car's license plate number. While en route to meet her, police ran the license plate number through their system and determined that the car belonged to Mr. Pace, according to a criminal complaint.

The Post-Gazette does not typically name the victims of alleged sexual assaults without their consent.

Police wrote in the complaint that the woman told them she and her sister went to the Black Beauty Lounge on Centre Avenue in the Hill District and left shortly after 2:30 a.m. She told police that she called for a jitney -- even though she is skeptical of some drivers -- and memorized the license plate as a precaution.

She told officers that Mr. Pace pulled out a Glock pistol and said, "I'm getting ready to kill you, better not move or say nothing!" according to the complaint. She said the two got into a fight in which Mr. Pace yanked some of her hair and attempted to rip off her shirt. She said he removed her pants and underwear and she escaped by biting him on the shoulder while he was trying to rape her.

She said she ran and hid nearby and then returned to grab some of her clothing, which he'd tossed out the window, and called police.

Officers broadcast a description of the car over their scanner system and Carnegie Mellon University police stopped Mr. Pace near Fifth Avenue and Devonshire Street in Shadyside. Those officers told Pittsburgh police that when they stopped Mr. Pace, his belt was hanging loose, his zipper was undone and his pants fell down when they asked him to stand up, according to the criminal complaint.

In a later interview at the bureau's North Side headquarters, Mr. Pace told police he didn't do anything wrong but refused to cooperate. He said he never picked anyone up and he hadn't been near the Black Beauty Lounge or on Centre Avenue that night.

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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