Taxi driver charged for taking 6 young women to his home against their will
MIDDLEBURY — The owner/operator of Middlebury Taxi pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Addison County Superior Court, criminal division, to six counts of felony second-degree unlawful restraint, stemming from a Vermont State Police investigation into allegations he detained six young women in his vehicle while driving them from Burlington to Salisbury during the evening of July 4.
If convicted, Marvin Morley, 59, of Ferrisburgh faces penalties of up to five years in jail and/or a $25,000 fine.
Court records indicate State Police Trooper Bryan Mazzola was dispatched to Salisbury shortly after midnight on Tuesday, July 5, to interview six women who had used Middlebury Taxi for a round-trip between Salisbury and Burlington during the evening of July 4, according to court records.
Mazzola interviewed the six women, who range in age from 22 to 24.
“I immediately noticed them holding hands, shaking, crying and scared,” Mazzola stated in his court affidavit.
The woman told Mazzola and a co-investigator, VSP Sgt. Brittani Barone, that their Middlebury Taxi ride from Salisbury to Burlington had been uneventful, that Morley had dropped them off at Church Street and told them they could pay him later. It was on the return leg of the trip, beginning at 10 p.m., that things went awry, the six passengers told police.
The women alleged that Morley, during the drive back, asked them if they wanted to see his house. One of the women told police that before they could respond, Morley “immediately turned onto an unknown road, later identified as Plank Road, in Ferrisburgh, according to Mazzola’s affidavit.
Morley allegedly told the women that he had an Airbnb, pool table, sofa and “button collection” to check out. Morley then pulled into his residence and turned the car off, which caused all lights to go off in the locked vehicle, the women told police.
One of the woman told Trooper Mazzola that “Morley continuously tried to encourage them to go inside the residence,” which made the woman scared — to the extent they started using a previously agreed-upon “safe word” expression to signal amongst themselves that something was wrong.
Adding to the women’s collective anxiety was the fact they didn’t see any other homes in the area and the front door of Morley’s home was padlocked, according to court records.
Each of the women told police she feared for their safety and at least some of the victims said they feared for their lives, according to court records.
Morley at one point “looked into the rearview mirror and asked them if he scared them. (One of the women) advised she didn’t think that she was going to make it home,” according to Mazzola’s affidavit.
The women were finally able to get Morley to head back to Salisbury after one of the women said she needed to get back to take her medication, though Morley’s alleged first response was that she could take her medication “later,” according to court records.
The women told police that Morley’s demeanor turned somber and he stopped speaking when the women stressed they didn’t want to see his home and needed to get back to Salisbury, according to court records.
Not far from their destination, Morley pulled over to the side of the road without warning and went on his phone, the women told police. After about two minutes, he resumed driving — through back roads — before pulling into the driveway at their intended destination, according to court records.
The women said they gave Morley $100 and ran from the taxi, police said.
State police also interviewed Morley. He told them that three of the women wanted to go into his house. He also told police that he was talking to the women about coming to work for him “because he believed they are not getting paid enough money,” according to court records.
Morley also told authorities he spent only “30 seconds” at his home before leaving “because he believed the females were uncomfortable,” according to court records.
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