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Uber driver sentenced to 5 years in prison for trying to sexually assault female passenger

Ahmed Tawfeeq, 29, of the 1100 block of Braeburn Drive, Elgin
Ahmed Tawfeeq, 29, of the 1100 block of Braeburn Drive, Elgin

An Elgin Uber driver will serve prison time in connection with a 2017 ride-share trip that left one woman feeling "vulnerable" and "afraid," she said.

Ahmed Tawfeeq, 29, was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault against a female passenger whom he encouraged to become a prostitute.

Tawfeeq was supposed to drive the woman from her parents’ home in Elgin to her townhouse near Prairie Grove after she finished work June 16, 2017. Tawfeeq, however, ended the trip on his Uber app before they arrived at the woman's home, she testified at the trial.

"What Ahmed did to me is sickening," the woman wrote in a letter that prosecutors read aloud in court Friday.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt found Tawfeeq guilty in November of attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, aggravated battery, restraint and promoting prostitution. Tawfeeq is required to serve at least 50% of the prison term and will receive credit for time he already has spent in the McHenry County Jail.

He's also charged with conspiracy and harassing a witness after police said he posted bond for another jail inmate and paid the man $6,000 to kidnap the victim so she couldn't testify against Tawfeeq. A jury trial on the conspiracy and harassment charges is scheduled to begin Monday.

"This defendant was willing to do anything to make [the victim] go away," McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Mary Ann Scholl said in court.

Days after the Uber ride, police secretly recorded a phone conversation between the woman and Tawfeeq. During that call, which was played at trial, Tawfeeq called the attempted assault a "crazy moment." He also told the woman how to create accounts on at least one website where men would contact her for “dates,” and offered to send men her way.

Tawfeeq's attorney, Brian Shields, said the woman was free to leave the vehicle if she felt uncomfortable.

"She could have undid the seat belt, unlocked the door and been on her way, but that was not her intent that day," Shields said.

Tawfeeq faces separate charges in Kane County, where he is accused of threatening to set fire to his house while his wife and children were home. In a written statement filed June 10, Tawfeeq's wife said the pair was arguing about text messages on her phone when Tawfeeq retrieved a gas can from the garage and poured the liquid on her in bed.

"He had a lighter, said he was going to light up the house on fire with the kids and was going to watch me burn," his wife wrote.

During Friday's hearing, Tawfeeq offered an apology to his family.

"I want to say I'm sorry to my family and my kids for putting them through all this," Tawfeeq said.

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