Iraqi refugee poses as Uber driver in New Haven area sexual assault

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HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Police have arrested a man who they say sexually assaulted a woman in the New Haven area.

Hamden police arrested 29-year-old Ahmad Bahjat of New Haven on Friday. Police say that on January 31, they were called to Yale-New Haven Hospital to meet with a victim of a sexual assault. Police say the woman left a New Haven bar and walked to a parking area designated for Uber and taxi drivers. Police say Bahjat pretended to be an Uber driver and the woman got into his car, thinking he was the Uber driver she requested.

On the way to her house, police say Bahjat parked his car in a parking lot and “viciously sexually assaulted her.” The victim got out of the vehicle quickly, but ended up leaving behind multiple personal items. Police say she had injuries to her neck, knees, and wrist.

Officers say Bahjat’s vehicle was parked in the area of Crescent and Dyer Streets in New Haven. Officers say they seized his car, which contained several pieces of evidence.

Police say Bahjat is a 2012 refugee from Iraq and has an immigration status of “Permanent Resident-Non-Citizen.” Police say within 24 hours of the incident, Bahjat fled the United States, taking a flight to Toronto, then to Turkey, and Jordan.

Officers submitted for an arrest warrant for Bahjat.

On February 11, police say the United States Customs Service/Border Protection detained Bahjat at JFK International Airport while he was trying to re-enter the U.S. He was incarcerated in New York.

On Friday, Hamden Police arrested Bahjat and charged him with first-degree sexual assault, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree unlawful restraint.

He is being held on $500,000 bond and is due in court on March 11.

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