Larry Ward, a 57-year-old resident of St. Peters and a former Lyft driver, has chosen to proceed to trial instead of accepting a 12-year plea deal offered by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. Ward is facing charges of first-degree rape and kidnapping related to an alleged assault.

The plea hearing was scheduled to commence on Friday, but two hours after its scheduled start, Ward rejected the plea deal. In response, Judge Scott Millikan has scheduled a trial for August 8.

Initially, Judge Michael Colona set a bond for Ward at 10% of $100,000, which he posted. As a result, Ward will remain out on bond until his trial.

Christen Giangarra, the alleged victim, was prepared to deliver a victim impact statement and remained in a private room away from the courtroom while Ward consulted with his attorney.

Giangarra, aged 33, has publicly spoken about the alleged attack, which occurred after she utilized the Lyft app to find a safe ride home following a night of celebration and drinking with friends on June 22, 2019. In previous interviews, she revealed that what was expected to be a six-minute ride turned into 51 minutes of terror, with Ward waking her up while smiling and on top of her.

Giangarra has filed a lawsuit against Lyft, claiming that the company neglected to conduct adequate background checks, allowing Ward to work as a driver despite warning signs in his criminal history. She also alleges that the company had previously declined to hire Ward when a prior background check revealed his felony record.

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