Crime

‘You destroyed me.’ Woman struggles to heal as Uber-driving rapist sent to prison

For raping a blacked-out passenger, a former Miami Uber driver was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison — but not before he heard in excruciating detail how his attack ruined the woman’s life.

Wracked by shame, anger and confusion, she isolated herself from friends and family. For weeks, she was forced to take pills to guard against possible HIV infection. She routinely arrived late to work, often hiding in her office to cry. Once, she contemplated suicide while pressing a knife to her wrist. She stopped attending social events, and now fears simply walking alone.

And she could not bring herself to come to court to see him sentenced, her words instead coming in the form of a letter read aloud by a prosecutor.

“It’s embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timid I go through life,” she wrote. “You destroyed me. ... You are a coward.”

As the woman’s letter was read aloud to a Miami-Dade circuit courtroom, former Uber driver and college student Nimer Abdallah buried his face into his hands crying.

Though his victim was not there, Abdallah, 29, addressed her while reading a prepared statement.

“I’m sorry I have caused you so much pain. I’m sorry I have made you feel unsafe,” he said. “Nothing is your fault. It’s mine. And mine alone. I’m sure my words mean nothing to you but I want you to know I am very truly sorry.”

Abdallah was arrested in October 2016 after his passenger, following a night of drinking at a restaurant, fell asleep in his car as he ferried her home. He took her inside her Miami apartment and raped her. She awoke to find her pants and underwear off.

He took the case to trial in May, claiming that he believed the encounter was consensual after the woman kissed him.

“His perception was that this was invited. He knows now that it was not,” defense lawyer Barry Wax said. “His experience with women is not extensive.”

Jurors didn’t believe him. They convicted him of two counts of sexual battery, and one count of burglary with a battery.

“This was not a romantic encounter,” said Miami-Dade prosecutor Katherine Moore. “This was a targeted strike.”

Moore and prosecutor Ian McKenzie asked that he be sentenced to 20 years in prison. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez sentenced him to 14. She also sentenced him to 10 years of probation, and he’ll have to register as a sexual predator.

Abdallah, a native of Israel, had been on the path to success.

He moved to Miami more than a decade ago. He enrolled in Miami Dade College, then earned an engineering degree at Florida International University in 2017. He graduated with honors.

When he was convicted at trial and taken into custody, Abdallah was one credit shy of graduating with a master’s degree in engineering.

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