What to Know
- Orlando Vilchez Lazo was arrested on four counts of rape by force and other assault charges
- Police said Lazo picked up women looking for their ride-hailing vehicles outside bars, took them to another location and assaulted them
- According to federal immigration authorities, Lazo was living in the country illegally
A suspected serial rapist who police said disguised himself as a Bay Area ride-hailing driver to prey on victims pleaded not guilty in court Thursday, according to Deputy Chief of Staff at San Francisco District Attorney's Office.
San Mateo resident Orlando Vilchez Lazo is being held without bail after he was arrested on four counts of rape by force and other assault charges. San Francisco police said Lazo waited outside local bars in San Francisco for women looking for their ride-hailing vehicles, and took them to another location and assaulted them.
The alleged crimes occurred between 2013 and as recently as last month, according to a court document.
The first reported incident took place in November 2013. A woman was leaving a bar in San Francisco's Mission District when she was picked up by Lazo, who was claiming to be her ride-hailing driver, according to a court document. The woman fell asleep and woke up in an unknown parking lot surrounded by warehouses. She demanded that Lazo take her home, but he proceeded to allegedly rape her in the car.
In February 2018, a woman was refused a ride by an Uber driver because she was feeling sick after a night of drinking, according to the court document. Lazo eventually swooped in to drive the woman home. He ended up taking the victim to a secluded location, hopped in the back seat and allegedly sexually assaulted the woman.
Roughly three months later, Lazo picked up another victim and later threatened her with a knife before allegedly sexually assaulting her in an unknown location, according to the court document.
In a similar incident this past month, Lazo picked up a woman leaving a bar in San Francisco and later threatened her with a knife as he sat in the back seat with her. He then allegedly sexually assaulted her, according to the court document.
Lazo appeared in court Tuesday but did not enter a plea. He is slated to be back in court at 9 a.m. Thursday.
According to federal immigration authorities, Lazo was living in the country illegally. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said it plans to deport Lazo to his native Peru if he's released from custody on the rape case.
Because Vilchez Lazo is a native of Peru and is undocumented, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they'd lodged a detainer against him with San Francisco County Jail in light of the charges.
However, because San Francisco has declared itself a sanctuary city, San Francisco authorities are not obligated to cooperate with ICE detainer requests.
"ICE is not aware of any additional criminal history and this is the first detainer ICE has lodged against Vilchez Lazo," ICE officials said in a statement.
This morning outside of court, Vilchez Lazo's attorney Deputy Public Defender Sandy Feinland said, "ICE should not be exploiting cases like these to advance its own political agenda. He's pled not guilty, he's maintained his innocence and the Constitution entitles him to the presumption of innocence and to his day in court. We want to fight this case in the courtroom and not in the media."
Officials with the ride-hailing service Lyft confirmed that Vilchez Lazo did drive for them but said that he misrepresented himself. He's since been deactivated as a Lyft driver.
In a statement today, Lyft said, "Our hearts go out to those affected by these deeply disturbing acts. Individuals who drive for Lyft must be eligible to work in the U.S. Unfortunately in this circumstance, this person fraudulently represented himself. We stand ready to work with law enforcement and are actively addressing this case of fraud with out background check provider."
Because of the five-year gap between the reported rapes, authorities believe there may be more women who were victimized by Vilchez Lazo.
"Rape is one of the most horrific crimes imaginable," District Attorney's Office spokesman Alex Bastian said today outside of court. "We're asking for the public's help. If anyone has any information either about the defendant or the case, please contact the San Francisco Police Department or the District Attorney's Office."
Lazo's next hearing will be on Aug. 1, where the judge will hear motions to keep holding him without bail.
The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.