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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Middlebury Taxi driver charged with unlawful restraint

The owner and operator of Middlebury Taxi, a popular ride service used by students, pleaded not guilty to six charges of felony second-degree unlawful restraint after six women reported being detained in his car on the night of July 4. 

A police report filed a few minutes after midnight on July 5 registered a “suspicious incident” in Salisbury regarding 59-year-old Marvin Morley, a Ferrisburgh resident, for the “unlawful restraint of his six passengers.” 

A follow-up article from The Addison Independent revealed the details of the incident. A group of women aged 22 to 24 were traveling between Burlington and Salisbury, when Morley asked if they wanted to see his house and turned onto an unknown road. 

Upon reaching the house, which the Addy Indy reported was far from other homes and had a padlocked door, Morley got out, and the car went dark. He encouraged the women to come inside, but they refused. 

The women feared for their safety and finally convinced Morley to take them back so one of them could take their medication. Morley eventually drove them to Salisbury, but first pulled over again to use his phone, before finally dropping them off at the intended destination. 

If found guilty, Morley could spend up to five years in prison and/or receive a $25,000 fine. 

According to the company’s website, Middlebury Taxi is owned and operated just outside Vergennes and provides “friendly and reliable” service. Middlebury Taxi is commonly used by students traveling to and from campus and the Burlington airport.  

The news of Morley’s incident is a shock to many students on campus, especially those who have used his services. 

One student, who wished to remain anonymous due to the ongoing investigation, rode to campus with Morley and a group of other women last winter. She described some of the strange incidents that occurred during the ride. 

Morley asked if the group wanted to take a longer, more scenic route to campus and offered to take their photo at a nearby lookout. The group declined his offer. Also during the drive, Morley pointed out where his house was and displayed his knowledge of

the area. 

“It was one of those experiences where we thought it was a little weird or strange,” she told The Campus. “It wasn’t really until the summer when we saw the news article that we were like, ‘Oh wow, this could’ve been us if we hadn’t been firm in saying no to things.’ It gives me an icky feeling.” 

Julia Pepper ’24 also had a strange experience with Morley, who drove her to campus from the Burlington airport last year. 

“When we got in the car, he was very chatty. He talked to me about his past jobs and seemed very friendly,” Pepper told The Campus. “At some point, I mentioned I’m learning to drive, and he said he could give me driving lessons.”

She added that he sent follow-up texts about the lessons and also sent her suggestions for potential Middlebury Campus stories. “It was more engagement than I think was normal,” she said.

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Sarah Miller ’24 has used Middlebury Taxi Service to get to and from the airport and emphasized how driving on unfamiliar roads heightens the vulnerability of the situation. 

“I [would] have no idea if [he is] taking the right road or not taking the right road,” Miller said. 

Miller also added that students using the service may be preoccupied with their travel plans and more likely to have their guard down. 

“There’s such high tension when you’re trying to make your way to the airport. You’re stressed about your flight; you’re nervous about maybe connecting flights. It’s a time of high anxiety and vulnerability because you’re relying on someone else to get you to the airport,” she said. 

In light of the charges, Pepper said she is grateful that she never took him up on the lessons, but wishes that the administration openly addressed the incident. “I think it’s very strange that the college hasn’t said anything about it. Just in terms of safety, they should’ve,” Pepper added. 

Middlebury is no longer recommending Middlebury Taxi on their transportation website. 

“I think about how precarious it all seems in light of what’s happened,” Miller said. “That could’ve just as easily been anyone [at Middlebury] who’s used the service and been driven by Marv.” 

Editor’s Note: Julia Pepper ’24 is a Local Editor, she was not involved in the editing of the article. Sarah Miller ’24 is an Opinion Editor for The Campus. 

Charlie Keohane

Charlie Keohane ’24 (she/her) is an Editor at Large. She previously served as SGA Correspondent and a Senior Writer. 

She is an environmental writing major and a psychology minor from Northern California. Outside of academics, Charlie works as the Social Media Intern for the Middlebury Admissions Office. She also is involved with the women’s track team and hosts Witching Hour, a radio show on WRMC 91.1 FM. In Spring 2023 she is studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, sending snail mail and FaceTiming her rescue dog, Poppy.