NORTH PORT — A Port Charlotte taxi driver arrested in Charlotte County in April for allegedly giving marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol to several teen girls while giving them rides in his cab has been arrested again and charged with sexually assaulting another young teen in North Port around the same time.
According to a North Port Police Department report, the NPPD was contacted April 12 by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office regarding incidents where Eric “Rebel” Byrd, 47, of the 800 block of W. Tarpon Blvd., Port Charlotte, was giving rides, alcohol, cigarettes and pot to several girls ages 12-14. The report states that one, a 13-year-old, had received these in exchange for sexual favors. During an interview at the CCSO, the victim told an NPPD officer that she met Byrd through a friend and she started asking him for rides in December 2011. The report states she rode with him about 20 times, and that he knew she was 13 when she started asking for cigarettes, marijuana, money and liquor. The victim said she knew Byrd would give her marijuana because a friend had gotten some from him in the past, the report states. At the time, Byrd didn’t ask for anything in return, according to the report, but the victim told authorities he began asking for three hours of time alone with her and sexual favors in January. The report further states that Byrn would drive his cab to the Winterville Circle area of North Port and, on four separate occasions between January and February, had the victim perform sexual acts. The victim said she hadn’t told anyone because she felt embarrassed and that Byrd had told her not to say anything. At the time of Byrd’s first arrest linked to the April incidents, the victims said Byrd had asked for sexual favors in exchange for the marijuana but all denied ever having sex with him. Byrd was arrested Thursday morning and charged with three counts of lewd or lascivious behavior on a victim age 12-16 and one count of lewd or lascivious molestation. He remains at the Sarasota County Jail on $40,000 bond.
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