Prostitute yourself: taxi driver
A Sydney taxi driver has been banned from working after he suggested a 17-year-old passenger should "prostitute himself" during a trip.
The teenager, who cannot be identified, reported driver Vilame Sodiki's sexually explicit comments to Roads and Maritime Services this year and it cancelled his authority to drive a taxi.
Mr Sodiki took his case to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, which upheld the ruling in a judgment handed down on Friday.
The teenager said he was waiting at a bus stop in March, when a taxi pulled over. The youth said he told the driver he had no money but Mr Sodiki told him to get in anyway.
"He made small talk and advised me he was bisexual and further said, 'Do you need money?'" the teenager reported.
The boy said Mr Sodiki then told him he could earn $AU60 if he gave him oral sex.
According to the tribunal's judgment, Mr Sodiki denied those allegations. He told RMS officers he picked up the teenager, who told him he'd been robbed, and took him to a police station without charging a fare.
He said he started to worry the teenager would rob him when he said he needed some money. Mr Sodiki said he then told the teenager about his bisexual friend who performed sex acts for money.
The tribunal's judicial member, Peter Molony, said he accepted the driver's version of events.
"He effectively invited the youth to prostitute himself," Mr Malony said. "Mr Sodiki made that suggestion in the course of his duties while driving a cab, albeit his passenger did not pay a fare."
The driver said the remark was made jokingly and he had just tried to have a conversation "until ... his destination and then I can get rid of him".
Mr Malony said: "Whatever the motive, be it one of those suggested by Mr Sodiki or an attempt to procure, the suggestion he made was totally inappropriate and should not have been made by him in any context, let alone by a taxi driver to his passenger."
Mr Malony said there was only hearsay evidence that the teenager was shaken and traumatised afterwards but the teenager's age aggravated the seriousness of Mr Sodiki's misconduct.
"Much like the situation where sexually explicit remarks are directed at single female passengers, an unaccompanied youth is in a vulnerable position when travelling in a cab.
"The public reasonably expects that they can do so free of sleazy suggestions and sexualised language and/or conduct from taxi drivers."
Mr Malony rejected Mr Sodiki's submission that cancelling his authority was too harsh and he should instead undergo further training.
He concluded: "Having regard to the sexually explicit nature of the suggestion that Mr Sodiki made to a youth, alone in his taxi at night, I am not satisfied that Mr Sodiki is a person of good repute, or that he is a fit and proper person to hold a driver's authority."
Sydney Morning Herald