WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita cabdriver convicted of raping a passenger should have been denied a taxi license because he was on a state sex offender registry when he applied for it, according to a civil lawsuit filed by the rape victim.
Bryon Scott Spohn, 44, was convicted in August 2013 of raping a passenger in February 2013 and sentenced to 48 years in prison.
He had applied for a taxi driver’s license in late 2012, when he was on a state sex offender registry for possession of child pornography. A city ordinance that went into effect in July 2012 says a taxi driver’s license shall not be issued to anyone who “is now or has ever been registered as a sexual offender with any state, county or local government.”
The civil lawsuit, which was filed Feb. 14 in Sedgwick County District Court, claims ABC Taxi Cab Co. Inc., the company Spohn drover for, “knew or should have known by virtue of Spohn’s criminal history that he was unfit for the position of a cab driver and presented an undue risk of harm.” The lawsuit says the woman suffered “serious injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other damage” exceeding $75,000, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1n7shiJ).
ABC’s lawyer, Craig Robinson, said when Spohn applied with ABC in October 2012, company president Ted Hill did a Kansas Bureau of Investigation background check, showing property-related criminal convictions for Spohn from the early 1990s. Robinson said the KBI report said nothing about a sex offender status.
The 2004 pornography conviction does appear, however, on Spohn’s license application with the city, according to a copy provided to the Eagle by city finance manager Rob Raine, who also is the city’s taxi enforcement officer. The application required Spohn to list any felony convictions.
Raine said the new change banning registered sex offenders was only three months old when Spohn applied and hadn’t been communicated to staff members doing background checks on taxi driver applicants.
Raine and police Capt. Darrell Atteberry, who oversees the records section, said a police detective investigating the rape case learned of Spohn’s offender status and notified the licensing officials, who then revoked Spohn’s license.
“Today, we’re confident we’re checking for this,” Raine said. Someone in Spohn’s situation wouldn’t pass the background check now, he said.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com