Uber driver showed porn to teen passengers, deputies say

- An Uber driver was arrested after showing a porn video to three teenagers during their ride home, deputies say.

Hillsborough County deputies say they arrested 43-year-old Michael Paz Debesa in April following the events that occurred on October 21, 2017. According to deputies, the mother of one of the teens requested an Uber to pick up her son and his two friends from Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa after 10 p.m. They had been at a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. 

The suspect picked up the three boys, ages 14, 15, and 15. During the ride, Debesa stopped at the Publix parking lot, located at Platt Street and Bayshore Drive. Deputies say he removed his cell phone from the dash-mounted cradle, and when he placed the phone back, he played a pornographic video, showing what appeared to be a minor. 

According to his arrest affidavit, the video played for about 20 seconds and, ”the victims felt the suspect was waiting for them to respond in some way, but they remained quiet and just looked at each other in disbelief.”

After the video ended, Debesa exited the parking lot and transported the teenagers to their destination, deputies say, and they told the mother who requested the Uber ride about what occurred. 

The mother notified the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and provided a ride summary from the Uber application, showing a face shot of a driver, named “Paz,” who had a 4.43-star rating in the app. It showed he was driving a Hyundai Elentra with the Florida tag, HTVB88.  Deputies determined the tag belonged to Debesa.

He was arrested on charges, including showing obscene material to minors. Uber tells FOX 13 Debesa was terminated as a driver.

According to Uber’s website, anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Drivers should refuse rides to underage riders and are expected to check their identification. 

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