Uber driver faces charge of sexual assault near London

By Dan BrownPatrick Maloney, The London Free Press

Monday, December 19, 2016 8:20:18 EST PM

Charges against an Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger are reviving the debate about whether Uber vehicles should have security cameras.

A London man is charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement, Middlesex OPP said Monday.

“We’re not surprised that sooner or later this time of incident would happen in the London region,” Orest Katolyk, chief municipal law enforcement officer for the city, said Monday.

City officials have been reviewing the ride-sharing industry for more than a year, including newsfeeds that track incidents involving Uber drivers — violence both against them and against their riders, he said.

“As a regulator of the industry, could a camera (inside the vehicle) have prevented this alleged assault? Common sense suggests, possibly,” Katolyk said.

Uber, an online app that matches people needing rides with drivers who pick them up in their private vehicles for a fee, has been a bylaw-busting operation since arriving in London in 2015.

City council recently approved several tweaks to the taxi bylaw that will regulate Uber and other transportation network companies. Unlike traditional taxis, though, the rules won’t require Uber drivers to have security cameras in their vehicles.

Police said a 21-year-old woman from London was sexually assaulted by a male Uber driver in a vehicle as she was being driven earlier this month to a destination in Southwest Middlesex.

Officers arrested the driver at the scene about 1:45 a.m. on Dec. 4, police said. Middlesex OPP Const. Liz Melvin declined to say where the arrest was made and if the woman called the authorities.

Police didn’t explain the delay of more than two weeks in releasing information about the charges.

Islam Soliman, 41, is in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on the charges Dec. 22.

Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling said the company is

co-operating with police and ready to provide information.

“We became aware of this on the day it was said to have allegedly occurred and immediately removed this driver’s access to Uber,” she said.

Police recommend a passenger take a friend along when using transportation services and public transit.

If that isn’t possible, police said, a passenger should let family or friends know the route they’re taking. A passenger should call when they arrive or arrange to have someone meet them at their stop.

With a file from Free Press reporter Randy Richmond