Cabbie sues city over arrest in sexual-advances case

Suit says NOPD didn’t check woman’s claims after cabbie rejected advances

Legal troubles keep mounting for a New Orleans lawyer and former radio personality who climbed over the seat of a taxicab in 2012, tugged up her panties and pleaded for a tryst, then later got the cabbie arrested for allegedly trying to blackmail her with a cellphone video he took of the incident.

Now, the cabbie is taking aim at the city and the New Orleans Police Department in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Friday.

White Fleet driver Hervey Farrell, 39, claims he was a victim of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and kidnapping. The lawsuit names Mayor Mitch Landrieu, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas and three police officers as defendants, along with Jennifer Gaubert, the lawyer.

Farrell, who lives in Metairie, was jailed in August on suspicion of voyeurism and extortion following a complaint from Gaubert that came a year after the April 17, 2012, cab ride from Bourbon Street to her home in Lakeview, with an apparent detour when the apparently drunken Gaubert hopped into the front seat.

Gaubert told police that Farrell, who had filed a civil complaint against her, was trying to extract money from her. Claiming they had engaged in consensual kissing, she reported Farrell had solicited $1,000 to make a battery charge stemming from the incident go away and to bury the racy video, in which Gaubert flashes her private parts, sweet-talks the cabbie and at one point “touched (his) clothing over his genital area,” according to the lawsuit.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office later refused to prosecute Farrell, instead charging Gaubert with making a false statement. Gaubert faces a May trial date in that case before Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter.

In the meantime, Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens convicted Gaubert, 33, on the battery count last week after hearing testimony from Farrell and viewing the cellphone video. Sens set a May 7 sentencing date. Gaubert is planning to appeal.

Until the ill-fated cab ride, Gaubert hosted a radio show on WGSO called “Law Out Loud.” Her web site, www.lolwithjen.com, was taken down last fall.

The cellphone video, submitted into the court record, captures her in the front seat of the cab, touching her undergarments while wheedling Farrell to engage with her. She reaches over toward Farrell’s lap. The cabbie stares ahead.

“No, I have to go,” he says.

“Two seconds,” she pleads, holding up a pair of fingers. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, I have to go.”

Gaubert remains insistent.

“Baby, baby, baby. It’s OK, it’s OK,” she coos.

“I love my girlfriend,” Farrell responds.

“That’s good, that’s good, that’s fine. I love my boyfriend,” she says. “Can you chill out for two seconds? You’re hot. You’re a (very) hot guy. I’m a girl. It happens.”

“No, I’m a faithful man.”

In his lawsuit, Farrell claims Gaubert repeatedly ignored his orders to get out of the cab. None of that appears in the video, which shows Gaubert finally exiting the car, saying, “Your girlfriend’s a lucky girl.”

Farrell argues police bought Gaubert’s story and issued a warrant for his arrest without checking it out, never questioning him. He claims he spent more than 27 hours in jail following his arrest and was forced to post a $21,000 bond and surrender his taxi permit pending an investigation. The city’s Taxicab Bureau got involved, and Farrell became the subject of widespread media coverage, suffering depression and emotional distress, the lawsuit states.

“Despite knowing that the information she had been circulating was false, neither Ms. Gaubert nor the NOPD took any steps to rectify the situation by removing or correcting the false information that had been circulating regarding Mr. Farrell,” the lawsuit states.

Neither Farrell nor his attorney could be reached Monday.

Cameron Mary, Gaubert’s attorney in the criminal court case, declined to comment, as did a Landrieu spokesman.