11/22/2016 18:17 EST | Updated 11/23/2017 00:12 EST

Duffy's taxi driver pleads guilty to sexual assault

A Winnipeg taxi driver charged with sexual assault involving a 17-year-old girl in his cab has pleaded guilty.

Jasbhinder Hansrao entered the guilty plea on October 27, 2016 in provincial court. He will be sentenced December 21.

Winnipeg police previously said in a news release that on July 9, 2015 at around 2:30 a.m., the teenager got into a taxi after being offered a free ride in the area of Bishop Grandin Boulevard and Pembina Highway.

Police said the girl was sitting in the front seat when the driver "made inappropriate contact with the female at which time a sexual assault occurred."

  • Winnipeg taxi driver arrested in sex assault of teenage girl

The girl got out of the cab after a short drive and told an adult about what happened, police said.

Hansrao's lawyer has not yet responded to a request by CBC News for comment.

A spokesperson for Duffy's said Hansrao "has not driven for Duffy's since being charged and his license was not renewed." 

If Hansrao's licence to drive a taxi was suspended as a result of the charge, the Taxicab Board isn't saying.

The regulatory board director Shelly Ferens said a criminal charge could result in a hearing under the taxi regulations but the hearings are not open to the public.

"Our process right now is they're all 'in camera,'" Ferens said. "So the show cause hearing is in camera, and then the decision is only provided to the licensee. And if it's based on a complaint, a copy of that decision will also be given to the complainant."

As a result, Ferens said she cannot reveal what, if any, penalty may have been imposed on Hansrao's taxi licence after the criminal charge was laid.

She said show-cause hearings could be held into a range of issues such as complaints against drivers, criminal charges, or when a taxi vehicle doesn't meet standards in the regulations.

Ferens said the taxicab board can also hold an interim hearing to deal with a driver's conduct, prior to completion of a full investigation of a complaint.

She said Manitoba's Taxicab Act allows the Taxicab Board to determine the rules for its hearings.

"Right now we're not at a place where our decisions are made public. So that's part of our internal review that we would like to look at as well," she said.

  • Have your say on the future of Winnipeg's taxi industry

The Taxicab Board has engaged a management consulting firm, MNP LLP, to conduct a review of Winnipeg's taxi industry this year, inviting input from taxi owners, drivers, and the public.

"We're hoping an outcome of that is to help us analyze what our processes should be in making it fair for everybody... as well as just trying to be as open and transparent as we can be," said Ferens.

"We're always trying to look at what best practices are."