UBER: WHAT’S REPORTED IS “DEEPLY DISTURBING”

July 13, 2017  

Google “Uber” and “deeply disturbing.” See it?

“Uber” and “deeply troubling” works, too. Uber uses the same rote response for news stories involving sexual assault of passengers by its drivers.

Here’s Uber’s full boilerplate of late: “What’s reported in the complaint is deeply troubling and something we take extremely seriously.”

Here’s something truly disturbing. Uber and Lyft drivers stand accused of 16 sexual assaults in news stories published between June 6 and July 12 of 2017. Sixteen in a 37-day span. An average of one every 2.3 days.

One accused Uber driver in Kansas City, Yahkhahnahn Ammi, served eight years of a 16-year prison sentence for attempted murder. While in prison, the future driver was known as Perrie D. Gibson.

When he got out, he changed his name.

Uber’s name-based background checks can’t and won’t screen out this attempted murderer. Uber has had other convicted murderers sign up with fake names.

Rather than us discussing this, let’s listen in on an UberPeople.net driver forum threadon this story:

“I guess an attempted murder conviction disappears off the uber background check with a name change,” says one driver.

“Sad that it’s that easy,” responds another.

“Or you can just have your brother who ISN’T a registered sex offender open a driver account and give you the phone,” chimes in a third.

Here comes an alternate view.

“Ummm. Fares are low. So ummm. Zero effs given. Not going through nsa style checks jyst to haul jerks around for 60 cents mile,” says “Skepticaldriver.”

By “nsa style” we can assume Skepticaldriver means fingerprint-based criminal background checks conducted by law enforcement. He or she is pointing to something that grates. Uber cuts fares again and again. The corporation has turned driving into such a crap job that this driver isn’t going to do one more thing that doesn’t make him some money. It’s adding insult to injury, Skepticaldriver seems to be saying.

After years of fare cuts, Uber has refused to require fingerprint background checks partially on the grounds these type checks will hurt driver retention. But it’s the fare cuts and other varieties of driver abuse which have really hurt driver retention.

Meanwhile, as previously noted: 16 reported sexual assaults involving (mostly) Uber drivers in 37 days.

Here’s how the Kansas City Uber driver story ends: “In a statement Uber says they are taking the matter extremely seriously.”

In an exceedingly hollow statement that signifies nothing.

 

http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/blog/uber-whats-reported-is-deeply-disturbing

Second Brisbane Uber driver charged with rape

JULY 14, 2017 10:02AM

QUEENSLAND police are urging women who have been sexually assaulted while using ride-sharing app Uber after a second Brisbane driver was charged with rape.

A 37-year-old man will face Brisbane Magistrate’s Court on Friday charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl in the city’s south on July 8.

The teenager reported the incident to police the following morning, saying the driver raped her in his car.

It comes only days after a 47-year-old driver was charged with raping a young passenger three times.

Police have said the two matters are unrelated, but they do believe more incidents have occurred.

After the first incident, detectives warned they had suspicions the driver could be a serial rapist.

“Some of the information we’ve obtained during the investigation seems to lend itself in the police’s view ... that perhaps there may have been other incidents,” Acting Detective Superintendent Mick O’Dowd told reporters.

“We don’t have exact details of those incidents, which is why we’re asking our public appeal again for people to come forward if they’ve been in a situation that’s similar.”

Det Supt O’Dowd said Uber had been fully co-operative with police and dismissed any suggestion drivers had been forging identity details to successfully register as a driver with the service.

Detectives have previously said they believe that a man may have abused other women collected late at night from central Brisbane in the last two years.

Police today have made a separate appeal for victims who have been in similar situations to report the incident.

Uber has previously said its drivers undergo a criminal history check before being cleared to work for the company. Police have said Uber has been cooperative in their investigations.

Despite the incidents and belief more passengers have been assaulted, Det Supt O’Dowd said police have no concerns about the safety of Uber or other ride-sharing services.

“I don’t think from the actions of two persons you could draw a conclusion it makes Uber any less safe,” he said.

“There’s thousands of transports every day where people are collected and dropped at their destination without any problem at all.”

Mr O’Dowd said improving safety measures of forcing all Uber vehicles to have cameras installed was a matter for the company and not police.

http://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/crime/second-brisbane-uber-driver-charged-with-rape/news-story/b48b5b553204d555bf83b90e6d0981e8

Uber driver arrested at Dallas Love Field

WFAA 5:17 PM. CDT July 15, 2017

DALLAS - An Uber driver is under arrest after dragging a police officer at Dallas Love Field.

The officer was off-duty and working for the airport directing traffic Friday night. The officer said he was talking to 52-year-old Jeffrey Wilks about a traffic violation. That's when the driver sped off, dragging the officer about ten-feet.

Wilks is charged with assault on a public service and drug charges.

The officer was treated for minor injuries.

 

http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/uber-driver-arrested-at-love-field/457047518

Uber driver allegedly threatened fare who shot-down his pitch for a date

 

By Jenna Jaynes | 

Posted: Mon 12:22 PM, Jul 03, 2017  | 

Updated: Mon 12:23 PM, Jul 03, 2017

     

SARPY COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) -- An Uber driver has been jailed for allegedly threatening to slit the throat of a passenger who refused his overture for a date.

Richard Moreno, 30, is facing a Terroristic Threats charge. Bond has been set at $25,000.

Prosecutors say Moreno asked the victim for a date. She said no, prompting the alleged threat.

Moreno is due in court on July 25th.

http://www.wowt.com/content/news/Uber-driver-allegedly-threatened-fare-who-shot-down-his-pitch-for-a-date-432296123.html

Uber was warned about driver’s violent past before he raped a passenger, new lawsuit alleges

‘It is not safe to allow your riders to ride with him’

by Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk  Jun 28, 2017, 4:25pm EDT

A woman who says she was raped by an Uber driver is suing the ride-hail company for allegedly ignoring previous warnings about the driver’s violent history.

The victim, a post-graduate student from Kansas City referred to in court documents as “Jane Doe,” says she was raped by an Uber driver named Yahkhahnahn Ammi on January 28th, 2017. The incident was reported to the Kansas City Police Department, which has collected evidence and is currently investigating the matter. Ammi has not been arrested and was driving for Uber as recently as March 20th, 2017.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company had just received the complaint and declined to comment while the specifics were being reviewed. “What’s reported in the complaint is deeply troubling and something we take extremely seriously. We are reviewing the litigation,” the spokesperson said. She confirmed that Ammi had driven for Uber, and was deactivated in March. A spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

AMMI HAS NOT BEEN ARRESTED AND WAS DRIVING FOR UBER AS RECENTLY AS MARCH 20TH

Ammi is a convicted felon who served eight years in prison for first-degree murder, according to the suit. After leaving prison, he had a string of minor infractions and lawsuits filed against him. He began driving for Uber in December, 2016. On December 25th, several weeks before Doe was raped, Ammi is alleged to have “viciously assaulted” a woman he was residing with in St. Louis, Missouri.

The assault victim filed domestic abuse charges against Ammi; he was charged and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Meanwhile, the victim also submitted an incident report to Uber to warn the company about the danger posed by Ammi to riders. According to court documents, her report read: “Your driver YAHKHAHNAHN ‘Yah’ Ammi assaulted someone badly 12/25/16!! He hurt the woman badly! He has a warrant out for his arrest. He is a scam artist his real name is Perrie D. Gibson born 8/21/79 or 78 it is not safe to allow your riders to ride with him!!”

Image: Jane Doe v. Uber Technologies

Representatives from Uber spoke over the phone with the St. Louis victim, and claimed it was launching an internal investigation. The lawsuit contains screenshots of the response from Uber stating that the company “will be in contact with you as soon as possible regarding this matter.”

Image: Jane Doe v. Uber Technologies

The victim also posted images of the injuries she sustained from her assault by Ammi on social media, using his full name and warning others to avoid accepting rides from him. But despite her report and public allegations, Uber failed to follow up with the victim and Ammi was permitted to continue to drive for the ride-hail service. A spokesperson for Uber confirmed the receipt of the incident report from a third party, and said the company believes it was handled properly.

Several weeks later, the plaintiff was connected to Ammi through the Uber app for a ride to a university-sponsored event. During the trip, Ammi persuaded Doe to exchange contact information so he could provide her and her classmates a ride home. Hours later, Ammi gave an intoxicated Doe a ride home, and then gained access to her apartment by claiming he needed to use the restroom. After refusing to leave, Doe claims she was raped by Ammi.

“IT IS TRULY UNCONSCIONABLE THAT UBER WOULD PERMIT THIS DRIVER TO CONTINUE TO DRIVE.”

“It is shocking that Uber would hire someone convicted of attempted murder in the first place,” said Norman Siegel, an attorney representing the plaintiff. “But it is truly unconscionable that Uber would permit this driver to continue to drive for the company after Uber was expressly warned that he violently assaulted a woman and presented an immediate danger to Uber passengers.”

Uber frequently touts its commitment to safety in its promotional material. But after a recent lawsuit accusing the company of misrepresenting its safety standards, Uber is now barred from using certain language when marketing itself, including phrases like "safest ride on the road" and "gold standard in safety." It also agreed to pay $10 million after settling a California lawsuit over its misleading statements regarding driver background checks.

Uber has also resisted efforts to require it to fingerprint drivers. The company argues that requiring drivers to be fingerprinted as part of criminal background checks would hamper its on-boarding process, which they need to maintain at a brisk pace because driver turnover is so high.

Jane Doe’s lawsuit isn’t the first to accuse Uber of mishandling cases involving its drivers who are accused or convicted of rape and assault. The company is currently being sued by a woman who was raped by a driver in India after reports surfaced that a top executive at Uber obtained her medical records. The executive, Eric Alexander, was convinced the allegations were actually a sabotage effort by Uber’s top competitor in India, Ola. Alexander kept the records and showed them to several others at Uber, including then-CEO Travis Kalanick.

Alexander has since been forced out of the company. And last week, Kalanick became the latest to resign after months of nonstop scandals and controversies. The company has been roiling from a massive investigation into its toxic workplace that resulted in the review of hundreds of cases of inappropriate behavior and 20 terminations. The company says it is committed to improving relations with drivers and riders.

Jane Doe v. Uber Technologies Inc., Case No. 1716-CV12741 by ahawkins8223 on Scribd

 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/28/15887566/uber-driver-rape-lawsuit-warning-kansas-city

Gainesville Uber Driver Diverts Ride, Gropes Woman: Police

A woman escaped from an Uber ride in north Florida after the driver groped her, police said.

Edwin Ricci, 66, was arrested on Simple Battery charges for the alleged attack that happened on June 14 in Gainesville.

The woman was traveling in the Uber ride she purchased when she noticed the driver making the wrong turn. She was Facetiming with a friend when she told the driver he was going the wrong way, but Ricci allegedly told the victim "we are just taking a little ride," according to an arrest report. 

That's when the driver noticed the woman was Facetiming and he turned the car and said "I hope he is not a jealous guy," a police report says. Ricci allegedly reached over and grabbed the woman's breasts, police said. The victim hit the driver's arm and yelled at him to stop before she jumped out the car and ran.

The woman's friend, who was on the Facetime call, saw and heard part of the attack, police said.

Ricci was arrested Monday at his attorney's office after he was identified by the victim from a six-person photo lineup.


http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Gainesville-Uber-Driver-Diverts-and-Gropes-Woman-During-Ride-Police-430935133.html

Uber driver accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting intoxicated female passenger

Richard WintonContact Reporter

A 46-year-old Uber driver with felony record has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and kidnapping after an intoxicated passenger was taken to a hotel and attacked.

Los Angeles police said Monday that Alaric Spence picked up a 24-year woman who had been out drinking in downtown Los Angeles.

She fell unconscious in his car, said LAPD Robbery Homicide Capt. William Hayes.

Instead of taking to her home to Hollywood, the driver allegedly took her to a motel on Lankershim Boulevard and sexually assaulted her, Hayes said.

Hayes said the victim awoke to find herself in a strange motel and remembered falling asleep in the back of the Uber car.

“There is a video showing him carrying her into the hotel,” Hayes said.

Police said it’s possible there are other victims and urged anyone with information to come forward. Spence was driving a silver 2015 Nissan Sentra with the license plate No. 7XUX293.

Nissan Sentra identified as Uber vehicle of Alaric Spence in alleged kidnap and sex assault (LAPD)

Spence, 46, of North Hollywood has five prior felony convictions for narcotics possession and narcotics possession for sale, Hayes said. He had worked for Uber for six months.

Uber in a statement said it is fully supporting the LAPD investigation and has banned the driver. “ No person should ever have to experience the violent act that’s been reported to police,” the company said.

Spence’s prior narcotics felony convictions are from 1990s, records show. Uber follows California law that forbids the hiring of drivers who are convicted of any felony in the last seven years.

The arrest marks latest sexual assault allegations to involve a driver for the ride-hailing service.

Earlier this month, an Uber driver was accused of sexually attacking a passenger during a ride in the Bay Area. Leonid Beker of San Francisco was taken into custody on suspicion of sexual battery, according to the Moraga Police Department.

In April, an Uber driver in Orange County was charged with raping a passenger who was riding home from a work-related event, authorities said.

The alleged rape occurred March 30, when Angel Sanchez picked up a woman at a company gathering in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Sanchez drove the woman near her home in Santa Ana and sexually assaulted her in his 2016 Toyota Sienna, prosecutors alleged.

Last year, a West Hollywood woman sued Uber Technologies, alleging that the ride-hailing company’s negligence led to her being raped by an Uber driver.

The incident allegedly occurred July 21, 2014, when the plaintiff took an Uber to her boyfriend’s home after a night out. According to the lawsuit, she never made it to his house, and the last thing she remembers was taking a sip from a water bottle provided by the driver while in the passenger seat of his car.

The UCLA Rape Treatment Center matched the DNA found on the plaintiff to a Uber driver who pleaded no contest to a charge of criminal sexual battery.

In January, state legislators enacted a law that forbids companies including Uber and Lyft from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or have had a DUI conviction within the last seven years.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sex-crime-uber-20170626-story.html

Uber driver arrested in sexual battery of passenger in Moraga

 

By Michael Bodley, San Francisco Chronicle

 Updated 5:41 pm, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A passenger who took an Uber from Oakland to Moraga was sexually battered by her driver near the end of the ride, police said Tuesday.

San Francisco resident Leonid Beker, 42, was arrested in San Francisco on Thursday, according to the Moraga Police Department. He was booked into the Contra Costa County jail in Martinez on suspicion of felony sexual battery before being released on bail later that day, said Moraga Police Chief Jon King.

“It’s an absolutely terrible thing to have a lady who is just trying to get a ride to her destination, and she’s victimized like this,” King said. “It’s absolutely 

King said investigators are looking into whether Beker victimized other woman.

A spokesman for Uber said “what the rider reported is deeply troubling,” adding that Beker had been removed from the service.

Beker is accused of stopping the car soon after he and the victim reached Moraga, police said. He climbed into the backseat, where he assaulted the woman, police said.

Police were working with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office on filing charges against Beker, King said.

http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Uber-driver-arrested-in-sexual-battery-of-11200757.php?utm_content=bufferdc7e6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Woman says her Lyft driver attacked her

by: Nefertiti Jaquez Updated: Jun 20, 2017 - 10:38 AM

ATLANTA - A woman says her Lyft driver assaulted her, leaving her with bumps and bruises. A witness saw it happen and helped her call 911.

The victim told Channel 2’s Nefertiti Jaquez the attack happened along Lenox Road on June 9.

Kerri Bush said from the moment the driver pulled up he had an attitude. Seconds later, she said he attacked her.

Bush told Jaquez she needed medical attention after she claims her Lyft driver assaulted her along the Buckhead street.

"The look in his eyes, I have never seen that," Bush said.

While her physical wounds are healing Bush said she's still distraught over the incident.

"I have never had anyone attack me like that,” Bush told Jaquez. "He grabbed me and was holding me. I'm kicking him, screaming, crying."

Bush said she left work at Lenox Square and needed to get home to get ready for her second job, so she asked her boyfriend to order her a Lyft.

She said things didn't go well from the moment the driver pulled up in his silver Infinity.

“He told me I could not have a drink in his car.” Bush said. “At the time, I was like why not? Because I saw a drink in the front seat of his car. He proceeded to tell me this is his car. Take the drink out.”

She said she threw the drink away, but things escalated when he got out of the car.

“He's threatening to punch me, telling me to leave. I call 911. This man snatches the phone from my face and throws it in the middle of traffic,” Bush said. “The man pushes me from the trunk of his car, to the hood of his car, and I just slide in the street.

Moments later, she says he jumped into his car and took off. She said she reached out to Lyft but they weren't helpful.

In a statement, a LYFT spokesperson told Jaquez: “Safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. This type of violence is completely unacceptable and we take any incident like this very seriously. The driver in this incident has been permanently deactivated from the Lyft platform. We stand ready to assist law enforcement in any investigation.”

Bush said she's happy he is no longer driving for Lyft, but she said she's ready to file assault charges against the man.

Jaquez checked and Atlanta police are investigating the case. 

 

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/woman-says-attack-by-lyft-driver-left-her-with-bruises-bumps/536018407

 

    Uber, Lyft driver offered minor money and rides for sex, cops say

    Updated on June 21, 2017 at 4:41 PMPosted on June 21, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    BY SARAH CASSI

    An Allentown man who said he drives for Uber and Lyft is accused of arranging sex in exchange for money and transportation with a girl under the age of 18.

    Hellertown police said they stopped 43-year-old Francisco Arias in the early morning of Jan. 12 in the 1000 block of Second Avenue in the borough, where he told officers he was picking up the juvenile girl.

    Police said they received an anonymous call six days prior, in which a tipster said the girl was exchanging sex for money. Police did not list the girl's age.

    At the traffic stop, Arias allowed officers to review a text conversation on his iPhone, police said. In the messages between Arias and the juvenile, and Arias and another female, Arias agrees to sell drugs for money, police said.

    During a search of Arias' vehicle, police said they found a baggie of cocaine.

    In an interview with police, Arias gave officers permission to view text messages on his phone. Police said there were several messages between Arias and the juvenile girl where he offered to pay her for sex with money and transportation.

    Police said a lab report from Arias' phone showed "numerous" texts from Sept. 10 through Jan. 12, where he negotiated sex from the minor in exchange for money, marijuana and transportation.

    Arias was arraigned Wednesday on charges of unlawful contact with a minor for prostitution, criminal use of a cellphone, corruption of minors, patronizing prostitutes, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving with an obscured license plate.

    During his preliminary arraignment on Wednesday, Arias said he works as a restaurant server and a driver for Uber and Lyft.

    Arias is free after posting 10 percent of $5,000.

    Arias said his wife and children live in Allentown, but after he was arrested, his wife kicked him out. Arias has been living and working in North Bergen, New Jersey, with his sister-in-law for the past two months.

    http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2017/06/man_who_texted_minor_for_sex_f.html

    Uber customer says LA driver ‘shot his hand up her loose dress,’ and she’s suing

    By City News Service

    POSTED: 06/22/17, 2:16 PM PDT

    LOS ANGELES — A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver earlier this month in Los Angeles sued the ride-hailing company today.

    The allegations in Erica Holland’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit include negligence, sexual battery, intentional misrepresentation, civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She’s seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a court order directing Uber to provide appropriate training to its drivers to avoid civil rights violations and sexual harassment.

    An Uber representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

    Holland, a producer, choreographer and performer, says she summoned a ride about 10:25 p.m. June 9 to take her to a Melrose Avenue club, Pour Vous, where she was booked to perform a show.

    After Holland sat in the front passenger seat of the Uber car, the unidentified driver “violently scooped and grabbed Ms. Holland’s hair and pulled her head toward the center of the car,” the suit alleges.

    After the driver let go, Holland “felt weak, frozen and paralyzed in fear,” according to her court papers.

    Upon arriving at Pour Vous, the driver “shot his hand up her loose dress ... while making a sexually explicit comment” as she got out of the car, prompting her to tell the driver, “You are a terrible person. Do not ever touch any woman without her permission,” the suit states.

    Despite her “shock and humiliation,” Holland performed on stage at Pour Vous, according to the complaint. After the show, she called police and wrote an email to Uber, the suit states.

    The next day, Holland awoke with hives on her thighs and stomach because of the stress from the attack, the suit alleges. She says she is still traumatized and trembles when she recounts what happened.

    Holland no longer takes Uber and her friends drive her whenever possible, the suit states.

    http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20170622/uber-customer-says-la-driver-shot-his-hand-up-her-loose-dress-and-shes-suing

    Former Uber driver arrested in connection with woman's death

    4:55 AM, Jun 5, 2017

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A former Uber driver in Florida was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a woman.

    The Florida Times-Union reports that police arrested 29-year-old Charles Rowlands of Jacksonville on Thursday on suspicion of evidence tampering related to the death investigation.

    Police say 28-year-old Victoria Braddock was found barely alive May 15. She had been shot and was lying in the middle of a road after being thrown from a black SUV, and later died at the hospital.

    Witnesses told police Braddock had been with an Uber driver nicknamed "Row" when she was killed, and that she had been using his cellphone.

    Detectives traced the phone number to Rowlands. They found a large amount of blood inside his SUV, which he had tried to clean before selling it.

    http://www.wptv.com/news/state/former-uber-driver-arrested-in-connection-with-womans-death?utm_content=buffer18394&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Toronto Uber driver charged with sex assault of girl, 15

    Police say passenger was allegedly attacked in a vehicle after she was picked up from the downtown bus station.

    By ALANNA RIZZAStaff Reporter

    Wed., May 31, 2017

     Toronto man has been charged with sexual assault after a 15-year-old girl said she was attacked by an Uber driver.

    Police say the girl was allegedly assaulted during a ride on Jan. 25 after she got into an Uber vehicle at the downtown bus terminal at Bay St. and Edward St.

    The investigation began in May after the girl spoke to police.

    On May 18, Fahmy Saggaf, 41, was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.

    He is scheduled to appear in court in June.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2017/05/31/toronto-uber-driver-charged-with-sex-assault-of-girl-15.html

    Uber driver charged with transporting passenger while intoxicated (West of Elgin )

     

    An Uber driver from Schaumburg faces a felony drunken-driving charge for transporting a passenger while intoxicated in northern Kane County west of Elgin, according to a news release from the Kane County State's Attorney's office.

    George M. Karyszyn, Jr., 45, of the 2200 block of Ramsey Circle, is charged with a class 4 felony count of aggravated DUI/vehicle for hire with passenger, a class C misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct/breach of peace and traffic offenses.

    At about 5 a.m. Sunday, Karyszyn, while driving his 2017 Ford Explorer on eastbound Plank Road west of Muirhead Road as a vehicle for hire under Uber, was under the influence of alcohol, the release said. A passenger in the vehicle became alarmed and disturbed as a result.

    The DUI offense is aggravated because Karyszyn was driving a vehicle for hire, the release said.

    A Kane County Sheriff's deputy made the arrest after responding to a call for a well-being check, the release said.

    The judge set Karyszyn's bail at $10,000 with 10 percent to apply for bond. He posted bond and was released. As a condition of bond, the judge ordered Karyszyn placed on electronic home monitoring and also ordered him not to consume alcohol.

    His next court appearance is June 28 at the Kane County Judicial Center.

    Source: 

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/news/ct-ecn-uber-driver-intoxicated-st-0601-20170530-story.html

     

     

    Toronto Uber driver charged with kidnapping 18-year-old passenger

    An 18-year-old woman was able to escape after Uber driver allegedly refused to let her out of car

    By Trevor Dunn, CBC News 

    Posted: May 23, 2017 11:35 AM ET  

    A 24-year-old Uber driver has been charged with kidnapping one of his passengers.

    According to Toronto police, an 18-year-old woman arranged for an Uber ride on Sunday around 4:00 p.m near Eglinton Avenue East and Dunfield Avenue in the Yonge-Eglinton area.

    The passenger told police the driver engaged in inappropriate conversation and made "unwanted advances."

    When the woman refused and asked to be let out of the car — a Nissan Altima — police said the Uber driver refused and attempted to forcibly take her to another location.

    The woman was able to escape and called police.

    Toronto police charged the Uber driver Sukhbaj Singh, who is from Belleville, Ont., with forcible confinement, kidnapping and assault, on Monday.

    Singh has been released on bail and is due back in court in early July.

    Driver immediately removed

    Uber called the allegations "unacceptable" and something that is "not tolerated on the Uber app."

    The company was contacted by Toronto police on Sunday, shortly after the incident was reported.

    "We immediately removed this driver's access following this report and will provide any information to law enforcement that would be helpful for their investigation," an Uber spokesperson said in an email.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/uber-driver-kidnapping-1.4127526

     

      Warrant issued for Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting passenger near UC Riverside

      by BRIAN ROKOS | brokos@scng.com | The Press-Enterprise

      PUBLISHED: May 23, 2017 at 11:43 am | UPDATED: May 24, 2017 at 7:16 am

      A warrant was issued Tuesday afternoon, May 23, for the arrest of an Uber driver who UC Riverside police say sexually assaulted a female passenger near the UCR campus.

      Jamaal Andrew Lee, 41, of Moreno Valley will face three felony charges when he is arrested, according to Riverside County Superior Court records: oral copulation by force or violence, assault with the intent to rape and false imprisonment.

      Lee may be driving a white 2004 Ford Explorer with California license plate 6AOG427, UCR police said in a news release. Anyone who sees Lee is urged to call police.

      In the wake of the attack, university officials are encouraging students who use ride-hailing services such as Uber to do so in groups.

      The woman, who lives in a UCR apartment complex near campus, reported the assault at 2:47 a.m. May 14, according to a crime alert posted to the UCR Police Department website.

      “UCPD suggests the following strategies when using these types of transportation services: When possible, utilize the service as a group. Let a trusted friend know where you are going and when you expect to return,” officials wrote in the alert.

      The assault happened despite safety precautions that Uber says it takes, including conducting criminal background checks on its drivers and tracking drivers’ trips with GPS.

      Uber spokesman Andrew Hasbun said Lee has been banned from working for the company.

      “What the rider reported is appalling,” Hasbun said in an email.

      Uber is one of several services in which freelance drivers set their own schedules and respond to requests for rides made through a smartphone app. These ride-sharing services face fewer regulations than traditional taxi companies.

      UCR is among the top Inland destinations for Uber and competitor Lyft, according to lists supplied by the companies. Riverside City College also is high on the lists.

      The alleged victim in this month’s assault had arranged for a ride from an off-campus location to the UCR Plaza Apartments at 1020 N. Linden St., said the UCR statement. Police did not say where the assault took place.

      “Once it was reported to us, UCPD issued a timely warning to the campus community detailing this incident. UCPD investigators have contacted Uber, who is cooperating with our requests for information on this driver,” the statement said.

      How Uber screens drivers

      Uber contracts with a third party to conduct criminal background checks on driver applicants, who are required to furnish their full name, date of birth, Social Security number, driver’s license number and a copy of their driver’s license.

      Applicants are ineligible to become Uber drivers if they have had more than three minor moving violations in the previous three years; have driven on a suspended or revoked license in the past three years; or had a conviction for driving under the influence or any felony, violent crime, sex offense or child abuse or endangerment in the past seven years.

      Taxi companies, competitors of the ride-hailing services, say that’s not going far enough.

      Would-be taxi drivers in California, unlike ride-hailing applicants, must be fingerprinted during background checks. Those prints, the taxi companies said in a lawsuit, make it easier to determine criminal records of applicants who lie about their names and backgrounds.

      Uber officials have countered that their background checks are reliable.

      The lawsuit, filed on behalf of California taxi companies in 2015 and dismissed at their request in April 2017, accused Uber of false advertising for saying its rides are “safer than a taxi.”

      Rider safety

      Uber’s website describes how it believes the service’s technology helps keep riders safe.

      When a driver accepts a request for a ride, the rider sees the driver’s first name, rating, photo and license plate number on the Uber phone app. That information can be checked against the driver who shows up. The app also will show the route, and the trips are tracked using GPS.

      The website acknowledges some shortcomings.

      Accidents and incidents will always happen. And when it comes to screening, every system has its flaws. That’s partly because past behavior may not accurately predict how people will behave in the future, but also due to the fact that no system in the U.S has a one hundred percent accurate record of the past,” Uber’s website says.

      http://www.pe.com/2017/05/23/suspect-in-sexual-assault-near-uc-riverside-was-uber-driver-police-say/

      Woman claims she was robbed by Uber driver and accomplice

      Tuesday, 23 May 2017 | MYT 11:40 AM

      BY JO TIMBUONG

      SERDANG: A woman's ride home was not as safe as she thought it would have been when she was mugged by her Uber driver and another passenger on Monday night.

      The 26-year-old booked her ride home to Puchong Jaya from Mid Valley through Uber, and claimed that there was another man sitting in the front passenger seat when she got into the vehicle at around 9.30pm Monday.

      She said when they arrived at One Puchong business centre, the passenger pointed a knife at her and forced her to hand over her valuables.

      After robbing her, the suspects left the victim by the side of the road where she was found by a passer-by who drove her to the police station to lodge a report.

      The passer-by also related the woman's ordeal on Facebook and said that she was terrified and in tears when he approached her.

      Serdang Deputy OCPD Supt Lee Wai Leong confirmed the incident.

      "We have obtained information on the suspect and driver and are tracing them," he said.

      Uber said it was unable to comment on the case as it was an ongoing investigation.

      "We are cooperating with the authorities in their investigation and would like to assure the public that Uber takes safety very seriously," it said.

      14-year-old girl raped by Uber driver in Osceola County, deputies say

      WESHPublished: May 12, 2017, 12:20 pm

      KISSIMMEE, Fla. (WESH)—A 14-year-old girl was sexually battered by an Uber driver in Osceola County, deputies said.

      The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said the girl requested an Uber driver to pick her up Wednesday in Kissimmee. The driver, David Pena-Melo, of Kissimmee, picked up the girl and asked her to sit in the front seat, deputies said.

      The girl told deputies that Pena-Melo began to make sexual advances during the ride and then drove past the requested destination.

      Pena-Melo pulled over on the side of a road near a wooded area and forced the girl to perform a sex act, deputies said.

      Detectives said they met with Pena-Melo on Thursday and arrested him on a charge of sexual battery on a person older than 12, but younger than 18.

      http://wfla.com/2017/05/12/14-year-old-girl-raped-by-uber-driver-in-osceola-county-deputies-say/

      Florida Uber driver arrested for kidnapping, rape

      POSTED:MAY 09 2017 12:24PM CDT

      JUPITER, Fla. - Police in Jupiter have arrested an Uber driver who is accused of kidnapping a passenger and sexually assaulting her.

      Police say the woman was picked up by Gary Kitchings, 55, just after 12:30 a.m. May 7th from Sun Fest in downtown West Palm Beach.

      On the drive to her home, the police report says he began to flirt with the woman, then when she tried to jump out of the car, he threatened her by saying he had a gun and that if she didn't do what he wanted, he would kill her.

      He sexually assaulted her in the car, police say, and after she got home and tried to run inside, he grabbed her and pushed her inside her house, the police report says, where he sexually assaulted her again.

      The victim told police she thought she saw a gun under his shirt but he never displayed one.

      He eventually left, saying he would come back and kill her if she told anyone, so she locked her bedroom door, hid in the closet, and called 911, the police report says.

      Police say the victim had the suspect's license plate number and he was arrested and charged with kidnapping, sexual battery with a deadly weapon, and burglary.

      Police say Kitchings lived and worked at the Kid Sanctuary Campus, a non-profit home for neglected and abused children.

      The facility told WPBF he has been placed on leave pending the outcome of criminal proceedings, and Uber said the driver has been removed from the app. 

      http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/253537376-story

      Bicyclist claims Uber driver stopped car to assault him

      PORTLAND, Ore. -- A cyclist says he was bloodied and beaten by an Uber driver.

      “Really surprising,” said Paul Jeffery.

      Jeffery says he was riding his bike along Southeast Salmon Street, near Sunnyside School, when he heard the revving of an engine coming from behind him. Jeffery said a car with an Uber sticker sped by him. 

      “I call out to him, ‘you’re going too fast,’” said Jeffery.

      Jeffery says the driver pulled over and got out of his car. According to Jeffery, the man threw him against a parked car and punched him at least four or five times.

      “I was freaked out,” said Jeffery. “There is no way I could’ve provoked him to do that kind of thing.”

      Jeffery believes the Uber driver was off duty at the time of the incident. A spokesman for the company says they take allegations like this seriously and they are looking in to the case. Detectives with the Portland Police Bureau are investigating, too.

      “We’re all humans trying to share a public space,” added Jeffery.

      http://www.kgw.com/news/local/bicyclist-claims-uber-driver-stops-car-to-assault-him/434727885