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Numerous Sexual Assault and Rape Charges Against Uber Drivers

uber sexual assault rape
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The alleged rape of an unconscious 24-year-old woman in a North Hollywood hotel last week by an Uber driver has called in question the safety of passengers and whether the incident is the tip of the iceberg or just one of a few isolated incidents.

Recent media reports stated there had been thousands of complaints by Uber customers involving sexual assault and rape, but the company itself disputes such claims. Uber fired back stating they have received just five complaints of alleged rape and roughly 170 allegations by passengers with a “legitimate claim of sexual assault.” The complaints in Uber’s records were made between December 2012 and August 2015, according to a data provided by Uber to BuzzFeed News.

Additionally, Uber says the rape allegations represent 0.0000009 percent of the total customer journeys taken during the roughly two-year period and one in every 3.3 million trips for the sexual assault claims.

However, multiple news reports so far this year have caused concerns about how frequent these types of incidents take place as well as what Uber is doing to protect its customers.

Uber’s policy is to contact anyone who makes a serious claim and work with law enforcement as required to assist in the investigation by temporarily suspending suspected drivers by deactivating their accounts as well as riders who are accused of wrongdoing. They also help law enforcement by providing police with the driver’s photo, name, make, model, color and license plate for the vehicle.

Uber Technologies Inc., a San Francisco-based ride-sharing company founded in 2009, reports it has 40 million monthly active riders worldwide, according to Forbes. Roughly 40 million riders use the service each month with Uber taking about 77 percent of the ride-sharing market. Regular Uber riders spend $50 per month on average for services and must use a smart phone with the company’s mobile app to obtain services.

Recent 2017 Uber Rape Cases in the News

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Indeed, the allegations of rape by drivers is worrisome. The North Hollywood incident (June 23, 2017) mentioned above involved Uber driver Alaric Spence, 46, who was hired to pick up a female passenger who was intoxicated. The woman reportedly passed out in his silver 2015 Nissan Sentra, he drove her to a hotel, carried her into a room unconscious and allegedly raped her. She was left in the room and when she awoke and found out what happened, called police to report the alleged crime.

Angel Sanchez, 36, of Costa Mesa was arrested after he allegedly raped a passenger he picked up in Newport Beach on March 30, 2017. The woman’s co-workers called the ride for the woman who had been drinking.  She was driven home to Santa Ana by Sanchez who allegedly sexually assaulted her in his 2016 Toyota Sienna. Sanchez was arrested on April 1 for felony rape of an intoxicated victim. On May 1, he plead not guilty to all charges.

Gary Kitchings, 57, a south Florida Uber driver was arrested after he gave a woman a ride home, forced oral copulation, forced her to drink his urine and raped her. He threatened to return and kill her if she told anyone. Kitchings was charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and burglary in May this year.

Sewanou Bisile Yoro, 34, of Norfolk, Virginia, is accused of kidnapping, rape and aggravated sexual assault after the Uber driver allegedly raped a female passenger in Virginia Beach on March 4, 2017,

These incidents are in the United States, but Uber operates in 570 cities worldwide.

The Sun newspaper reported there were 32 sexual assault or rape claims made against Uber employees in London during a 12-month period in 2016. The data confirms that Uber had one of these assaults for every eleven days. The numbers only represent about a fifth of all 154 sexual assault claims in London.

A woman in Delhi was raped by an Uber driver in October 2015. The driver was convicted of the rape. Another Uber driver was convicted of rape, kidnapping and assault and battery and sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison the same month and year.

Fingerprinting and Background Checks

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Unlike licensed taxi drivers who are screened by a background service such as Live Scan that take fingerprints, most ride-sharing services including Uber do not require fingerprint background checks for its thousands of drivers. Instead use services provided by companies such as Accurate and /or Checkr.

In fact, the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys recently filed a lawsuit against Uber for misleading consumers into thinking the service is safer than it actually is. In fact, the DA’s offices say at least 25 drivers with criminal records in their respective cities that were not detected by the ride-hailing service. One of those drivers had spent 26 years in prison for second-degree murder. The cities filed a civil lawsuit against Uber for misleading consumers with advertising that promises a drivers have been properly screened. Fingerprints can provide a more extensive background check into the vast FBI criminal database.

“A background check without fingerprints is pretty much useless,” said Attorney James Johnson, a California sexual abuse attorney.

Uber Trust and Safety Team

So how does Uber protect its riders from sexual assault and rape? A statement made by Uber to Buzzfeed disclosed the rideshare compnay has a dedicated Trust and Safety team overseeing its operations.

Joe Sullivan, Chief Safety Officer, is a former federal prosecutor who has held positions at eBay and Facebook in the past, and Phil Cardenas, the former head of Trust and Safety at Airbnb, oversee the Trust and Safety issues at Uber.

  • Uber trips are tracked by GPS
  • Riders can share their route in real time with family
  • Riders can rate their drivers/Drivers can rate their riders
  • Background checks for drivers using Accurate and /or Checkr
  • “Real-Time ID Check” is a security check on some drivers. They are asked to take a selfie to verify their identity and prevent their account from being hijacked.

Help for Uber Sexual Assault Victims

If you were sexually assaulted by an Uber, Lyft or taxi driver in California, it’s likely you have grounds for a lawsuit and may be eligible for compensation for the physical assault and emotional distress you have suffered. A sexual battery, rape or other unlawful conduct by a driver who works for a rideshare or taxi company is a violation of your civil rights and may be punishable in both criminal and civil courts. A court may also award punitive damages to a victim who suffers from this sort of attack or abuse. The compassionate attorneys at Johnson Attorneys Group can help with a free consultation at 800-235-6801. Call us to find out what steps to take to resolve your case and ensure you get the medical help necessary for a full recovery.

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