Another Boston Uber driver nabbed on Rape charges

9/3/2016

Uber Driver Charged With Raping Passenger In Boston

CBS Boston

State legislators are blasting Uber’s system for conducting background checks after another driver for the ride-hailing giant was accused of raping a customer in the Boston area — and are calling on the company to impose stricter standards.

“You can’t be a $60 billion company and walk away from people on your platform raping women or men and think it’s OK and turn your back on it,” said state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, calling for the media and public to put pressure on the ride-hailing company to change its policies. “This is where we have to hold Travis (Kalanick, Uber CEO) accountable.”

Michael Vedrine, 32, of Dorchester, was arraigned in Dorchester District Court yesterday on two counts each of rape and assault and battery after he allegedly attacked a woman he picked up while driving for Uber in Boston on Wednesday. He was ordered released on personal recognizance.

Vedrine joins a list of other Uber drivers charged with sexual assault in the Boston area, some of whom had criminal records. Paul Griffin, 28, of Malden, was charged with open and gross lewdness after driving with his pants down earlier this week. He had been charged with exposing himself to two women near Downtown Crossing earlier this year.

Darnell Booth, 34, of Dorchester, was charged with raping a 16-year-old girl in Everett in July. He had a 2012 conviction of assault and battery.

Alejandro Done, 47, of Boston, was convicted in 2015 of aggravated rape, kidnapping, and assault and battery for an attack in 2014. He was also connected to five previously-unsolved sexual assaults in Boston between 2006 and 2010.

Forry also called on Mayor Martin J. Walsh to support fingerprinting Uber drivers, a position that would put him on the same page as police Commissioner William B. Evans, who has strongly backed the policy.

In a statement yesterday, Walsh said he supported “strong background checks for drivers that weed out individuals who have a history of criminal activity that deems them unsuitable for these jobs, as well as stringent safety standards so the public can access a range of safe and reliable transportation options.”

Last year, Forry co-sponsored regulations with state Rep. ­Michael Moran that would have required Uber drivers to be fingerprinted. That was rejected in favor of a law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in August that will mandate a state-run background check for Uber drivers in addition to Uber’s third-party sourced background check.

The regulations, which must be implemented by next August, require Uber to submit driver information to the Department of Public Utilities, which will then run its own check and certify drivers.