TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa man was arrested on Saturday after he was accused of coercing an international student and sexually battering her.
According to a release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Steeve Louis, 23, met the woman on Aug. 17 while working as an Uber driver.
Louis allegedly installed CashApp onto her phone and logged into her account, according to HCSO. A few days later, the woman received messages from someone claiming to be a CashApp employee “enforcing federal law” — saying she needed to “prove she was in a relationship with Louis in order to have his Cash App account on her phone,” according to HCSO.
In the news release, HCSO said the woman was told she would lose her student visa, which meant she would have to leave the U.S. She was “fearful and coerced,” the release stated.
The CashApp employee had her meet up with Louis to stage photos “proving” they were in a relationship. The employee demanded more photos, according to HCSO, saying they were “not intimate enough.”
The attack happened in the area of Paseo Al Mar Boulevard and Gallant Man Street.
“Out of fear, the victim undressed and was going to pretend to be intimate with Louis; however, he sexually assaulted her,” HCSO said.
Investigators determined Louis was posing as a CashApp employee to scare the woman and to take advantage of her, according to HCSO. He was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery.
“I am profoundly disturbed by the actions of an individual who, under the guise of authority, took advantage of an international student’s vulnerability,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will continue to stand against those who exploit and harm others in our community.”
“Everybody who’s been a victim of a crime should know that there’s a U visa for people who are victims of crime, regardless of their immigration status,” said Merium Malik, a business immigration attorney based in Tampa. “Go and make a police report, tell law enforcement to get involved, get safety and that will allow you to get your visa and eventually your green card.”
“If you’re younger and you’re here as a student, you don’t have a permanent residency or you’re not a U.S. citizen, you’re vulnerable,” Malik said. “So, someone can use that to prey on you.”
On Tuesday, Louis remained in the Hillsborough County Jail on a $60,000 bond.