Lyft and Uber drivers may need extra insurance coverage

POSTED: JAN 14 2019 08:16PM CST


UPDATED: JAN 15 2019 09:17AM CST

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The St. Paul chill is no match for the sting single-mother Kelly Muñoz feels as she stares at deflated airbags, a jacked front tire, and major front end damage to her 2018 Jeep.

“It’s not drivable,” she explained.

The totaled SUV is parked in her friend’s garage collecting dust.

It’s just so devastating,” said Muñoz.

The full-time social worker and part-time Lyft driver’s frustration is still palpable two months after she was struck by 23-year-old David Acosta-Rosario of St. Paul Park. Acosta-Rosario was later charged with speeding, driving without insurance and driving with a revoked license following an impact that wasn’t without injury.

“I received a concussion, back and neck pain and currently still getting treatment for my lower-back pain," said Muñoz. "I’m currently seeing a physical therapist and chiropractor that I have to see three times a week.”

Adding insult to injury, Muñoz is forced to rely on her own coverage for the $28,000 she owes on the Jeep.

“I’ve been battling back and forth with both insurances,” she said.

While Lyft agreed to cover Muñoz’s medical expenses, she says, it wasn’t until after the crash that she learned she wasn't completely covered. At the time of the crash, Muñoz was logged into the Lyft driver app, but she didn't have a passenger with her and hadn't been matched with one yet. She also didn't have a “rideshare endorsement” included in her plan through American Family Insurance. Without a passenger and without the endorsement, neither company will accept her auto claim.

“Despite the fact that American Family Insurance is one of the top 10 insurance companies in this country, they don’t even offer it to drivers of Lyft vehicles in Minnesota,” said Muñoz’s attorney, Howard Sussman.

“I believe Lyft has the most responsibility, because they were obligated to explain to Kelly in great detail both in writing as well as training their drivers, including Kelly, to make sure that there weren’t any gaps in coverage,” Sussman said.

Nonetheless, some would argue it’s the sole responsibility of the driver to know exactly how much insurance they need.

In a statement to FOX 9 Campbell Matthews, a spokesman for Lyft, writes, 

"Safety is Lyft's top priority and we recognize this was frightening and unfortunate. Upon learning of the incident, Lyft reached out to the driver to extend our support, investigate the incident, and an insurance adjuster was in touch to assist and explain our coverage policy."

Meanwhile, American Family spokeswoman Janet Matthews asserts, 

This endorsement [rideshare insurance] is not yet available from American Family in Minnesota. Again, although we truly sympathize with Ms. Muñoz… and her situation, a personal auto policy does not provide coverage at times when the car is being used for a commercial purpose, such as driving for a transportation network company like Lyft.”

“It’s completely unfair,” Muñoz said, shaking her head.

And she isn’t the only rideshare driver who was blindsided by the news.

“I was not aware of rideshare insurance, nor was it ever spoken about with Lyft [or Uber]. They just needed to see that I had insurance on my vehicle and I assumed that they had accepted it, I was covered,” said Uber and Lyft driver Natalie Beecham.

Beecham only picks up passengers to earn extra cash, but when she heard Muñoz’s story it made her reconsider.

“I stopped driving," said Beecham. "The liability that that leaves you with, I don’t know if it’s worth some spare change if you’re not doing this as your full-time job,” Beecham said.

As Muñoz learned the hard way, the uninformed risk far outweighs the reward.

With no other recourse, Muñoz launched a go fund me page to help pay off her Jeep so she can get into a new car. Until then, she has quit driving for Lyft and borrows a friend’s car to get to her full-time job and take her son, Hank, to and from school.

“I’m hoping also that by sharing my story that I’m able to bring awareness for other Uber and Lyft drivers who are in similar situations as me who are convinced that they have coverage with their insurance but may not,” said Muñoz.

Uber driver accused of kidnapping and attacking a woman

Christopher J. Eberhart, Rockland/Westchester Journal NewsPublished 3:32 p.m. ET Oct. 16, 2018 | Updated 8:34 a.m. ET Oct. 17, 2018

Here are five things you need to know about crime in Westchester County. Video by Jordan Fenster/lohud Wochit

A 24-year-old New York City Uber driver is accused of attacking a woman while he was driving her to her Westchester home. 

The woman hired Harbir Parmar to drive her from Manhattan to White Plains on Feb. 21, prosecutors said. ...During the ride, the victim fell asleep, and Parmar changed Uber's mobile application to an address in Boston and drove toward Massachusetts, prosecutors said. 

When she woke up, prosecutors said Parmar's car was on the side of the road and he was allegedly in the backseat with his hand under her shirt, prosecutors said. 

After she woke up, Parmar went back to the driver's seat and drove her to Branford, Connecticut and left her on the side of Interstate 95, prosecutors said. She went to a nearby convenience store where she called for help. 

Parmar is facing federal charges of kidnapping and wire fraud. 

“As alleged, Harbir Parmar was hired to transport a woman from Manhattan to her home in White Plains," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. "Instead, Parmar kidnapped, terrorized and assaulted the woman before dumping her on the side of an interstate. No one – man or woman – should fear such an attack when they simply hire a car service.”

In addition to the alleged February incident, Parmar sent false information about the destinations of the Uber's customers through its mobile application on at least 11 occasions between December 2016 through February 2018, prosecutors said. 

He also sent false information about the application of a cleaning fee to be applied to the Uber's accounts on at least three occasions, and customers filed complaints with Uber about being overcharged for their rides, prosecutors said. 

These instances have resulted in over $3,600 in improper charges. 

The kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and the wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Uber driver pleads guilty to reduced charge in death of passenger

By BETSY POWELLCourts Reporter

Thu., Oct. 25, 2018

An Uber driver, whose “poor judgment” resulted in the death of a passenger, pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced Highway Traffic Act charge of careless driving, much to the disappointment and derision of the victim’s family.

Abdihared Bishar Mussa, 23, was facing four Criminal Code charges, including dangerous driving causing death, in the March 21, 2018 crash that killed Nicholas Cameron, who was 28.

It was Mussa’s second day driving for the online platform when he accepted a fare from Cameron and his girlfriend, Monika Traikov, to take them to Pearson International Airport. After the couple climbed into the back seat of his 2012 Hyundai, Mussa inadvertently headed eastbound on the Gardiner Expressway — in the opposite direction of the airport, Crown attorney Michael Coristine said reading an agreed statement of facts.

While travelling westbound on the Gardiner, Mussa’s phone/GPS fell from its mount onto the floor of the vehicle. He stopped the car on the shoulder, just west of Park Lawn Road, but it was “at least partially, still in the live right lane,” Coristine said.

After reattaching the phone to the mount, he very slowly attempted to pull back on the highway when a black BMW sedan struck the back corner at a high rate of speed. “Due to the force and precise location of the impact from the initial collision, Mr. Cameron, who was seated directly behind the driver’s seat, suffered a catastrophic neck injury.” He died the next day in hospital. Traikov suffered a concussion and other minor injuries and was treated and released.

The driver of the BMW acknowledged to police he had taken his eyes off the road for a second to check the time on his phone.

Explaining why the prosecution had accepted the plea, Coristine told court while Mussa exercised “poor judgment with extremely tragic, unimaginable consequences,” his actions weren’t criminal.

“He did not set out to injure anyone that night,” Coristine said. He is asking for the maximum $2,000 fine, one-year driving prohibition — Mussa has already been without a driver’s licence for seven months — and one year probation when he must complete driver training.

An “exceptionally aggravating factor” was that Mussa was operating a commercial vehicle, the prosecutor said.

Defence lawyer David Parry is asking for a $400 fine, one year probation and mandatory driver training before his licence is reinstated.Cameron’s family and friends who packed the small Finch Avenue West courtroom shook their heads and sobbed throughout the proceedings.

I am “horified” by this “pathetic slap on the wrist,” Cameron’s sister Rachel told court reading from her victim impact statement.

Their mother, Cheryl Hawkes, urged Mussa to take responsibility for his actions, just as her son did when he was alive. She, too, expressed disgust at what has transpired since her youngest son was killed, which has “ruined my life … as I knew it.”

“In the end, responsibility for Nick’s death has been left on the side of the road and no one wants to touch it.”

Cameron’s brother-in-law, Jason Burns, urged Mussa to “go public” and join the family’s pursuit “and tell Uber and Toronto why they need to reinstate driver training.”

“Tell them there will be another Nick,” he said in court.

Cameron’s older brother Patrick told Mussa he hopes he will do something positive with his life, “to make up for the life that you took.”

Ontario Court Justice Paul Robertson reserved his sentencing decision to Dec. 4.

New York Uber driver charged with manslaughter in death of teen car surfer

Ryan Mullen, 15, and two friends, both age 16, called for an Uber after a night of drinking and partying, prosecutors said.

Nov. 5, 2018 / 2:47 PM CST / Updated Nov. 5, 2018 / 3:32 PM CST

By Janelle Griffith

A New York Uber driver is facing manslaughter charges in the death of a teenager who prosecutors say fell from the roof of the driver's vehicle while “car surfing” after a night of drinking in September.

Danyal Cheema, 24, pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter at his arraignment Monday in First District Court in Central Islip. The judge set his bail at $200,000 cash or $400,000 bond. Cheema's license was suspended and he is scheduled to return to court Friday.

Danyal Cheema is accused of letting a teenager "car surf" on his vehicle in September.Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said the victim, Ryan Mullen, suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was allowed to ride on the roof of Cheema's Toyota Highlander.

Mullen, 15, and two friends, both 16, ordered an Uber after a night of drinking and partying, prosecutors said. The boys allegedly offered Cheema $70 to allow two of them to ride on the roof of the vehicle as it was moving, while the third recorded a video to post on social media.

The teens withdrew their offer after deciding $70 was too much, prosecutors said. But after getting into the vehicle and traveling some distance, they later made Cheema a $40 offer to car surf that he accepted, Sini said.

Mullen and another teen mounted the vehicle, while the third recorded video on Snapchat, authorities said. Mullen fell from the Highlander as it drove away, striking his head on the pavement, Sini said. Cheema drove the teens to their destination. Mullen sustained a fractured skull and died in his sleep later that night, Sini said. Mullen's cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

"This was an incredibly bad decision by the defendant, a bad decision by the boys involved, obviously," Sini said. "But at the end of the day, that defendant is an adult contracted to safely bring those boys home. And he failed to do that."

Cheema faces up to 15 years if convicted.

Uber driver charged with kidnapping, allegedly wouldn't let girl, 15, out of car

By Chad Pradelli

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 11:17AM

The proliferation of ride-sharing services has some parents using Uber and Lyft to taxi their children around, however, it's against the policy of both companies and can prove to be unsafe.

One local mother says an Uber driver allegedly abducted her daughter and, even after he was charged, he continued to drive for the company for months.

Shakara Parks said it was around 9:30 p.m. on a chilly March night when the Uber driver picked up her 15-year-old daughter.

The teen had just wrapped up a hair appointment, but said the Uber ride quickly turned uncomfortable.

"I received multiple comments saying that I was pretty," she said.

The girl texted her mom, as she was told to do when her mom ordered the ride.

Her text said: "I'm in the Uber and I feel uncomfortable."

Parks pleaded with her daughter to tell the driver, Robert Beamon, to let her out.

"The man then put his hand on the lock and said 'No, you're coming with me,'" the teen said.

Parks said her daughter began to cry.

"I said, 'Get out the car.' She said 'I can't.' I said 'What do you mean you can't?' She said, 'His hand is on the lock button,'" said Parks.

The teen said she kept screaming and kicking the door.

"'Please, please let me out. Please, please,'" she said. "He didn't let me out."

The alleged ordeal is a stark reminder of what can happen to your child when he or she jumps into an Uber with a stranger.

Both Uber and Lyft have a policy where minors are not allowed to use their services without a parent. But some busy parents, like Parks, are using the ride-sharing services to transport their kids to or from events.

Action News had a 14-year-old sign up on both apps with parental permission.

He used his recently acquired debit card and within a half hour he was on the road as we monitored his travels.

Three times he was able to get an Uber driver to pick him up with no questions asked. A Lyft driver did the same.

"I still blame myself. Had I would have just left school and got her myself this wouldn't have happened," said Parks.

Parks' daughter says she escaped her frightening Uber ride after Beamon became distracted by another car.

"He got frightened and his hand went off the lock and I kicked the door open and was able to get out," she said.

Authorities charged Beamon with kidnapping and other related charges in May, yet according to reviews, he continued to drive for five months.

Parks said she repeatedly called Uber to complain the 59-year-old was still on road.

"Uber told me that they cannot release any information to me because it's none of my business," she said.

Uber released a statement that reads in part: "What's been described is extremely troubling and upon learning of it we immediately removed the driver's access to the app. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement."

Uber went on to say drivers can request that passengers provide a driver's license or ID card. If a rider is underage, they shouldn't allow them to ride.

Beaman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He declined to comment through his attorney.

Study blames Uber, Lyft for spike in US traffic deaths

by Justin King October 25, 2018, 4:38 pm

The research claims ride-hailing services are behind the mysterious increase in traffic deaths since 2011.

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft may be to blame for the recent increase in US traffic deaths, according to a University of Chicago and Rice University study (PDF).

Researchers analyzed localized statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and compared the traffic fatalities with the dates that Uber or Lyft first launched in various cities.

The study's authors point out that traffic deaths had fallen steeply in the US from 1985 through 2010, when ride-hailing first launched, and have since reversed course and increased. Consistent with the staggered rollout of such services, the arrival of Uber and Lyft is associated with a 2-3 percent increase in traffic mortalities since 2011.

"A naïve view of the effects of ridesharing merely views ridesharing as removing drivers who would have driven themselves with their car and replacing them with rideshare drivers," the study says. "This naïve view, however, ignores many of the nuanced effects of substituting driving oneself with being driven by a rideshare driver."

The authors say that drivers have riders in their car for only a small fraction of the time they are driving on the road. They drive empty from fare to fare and frequently relocate to different areas of a city that might provide better prospects.

The study admits that pooling services such as LyftLine and UberPool may increase ridership and reverse the trend. For now, however, the short-term fatality trend appears to be increasing.

The study may soon be irrelevant as companies such as Waymo prepare to roll out driverless taxi services. Further research will presumably focus on the accident and death rates as increasing numbers of driverless vehicles begin operating alongside human-piloted vehicles.

Uber driver arrested after passenger shot dead

Police were called by a witness from a highway in the city of Denver, Colorado, following the attack on Friday.

By Lucia Binding, news reporter

An Uber driver has been arrested in the US on suspicion of first-degree murder in the shooting of one of his passengers.

Michael Andre Hancock, 29, is accused of killing Hyun Kim, 45, during an incident in the early hours of Friday morning in Denver, Colorado.

Police were called by a witness shortly before 3am from a highway in the city, reporting that "an Uber driver… said his ride tried to attack him and the driver shot him," an officer stated in a court document.

Mr Kim was lying fatally wounded on the front passenger seat floor of the Sedan vehicle, which had stopped on a ramp, and officers failed to revive him.

Police arrested the driver at the scene.

They allegedly found a semi-automatic pistol in his waistband and later recovered 10 spent .40-caliber cartridges plus a blood trail on the shoulder of the highway.

The Denver Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Mr Kim.

US media is reporting that he is originally from South Korea but had been living near the city.

An Uber spokesman said of the incident: "We are deeply troubled by the events in Denver today," according to local media.

The ridesharing company has been linked to similar controversies in the past.

Police in Michigan charged an Uber driver with six counts of murder after he reportedly went on a killing spree two years ago through the city of Kalamazoo.

The driver, Jason Dalton, allegedly confessed.

Thousands of criminals were cleared to be Uber drivers. Here's how rideshare companies fought stronger checks

By Curt Devine, Nelli Black, Drew Griffin and Collette Richards
Video by Collette Richards and Harshal Vaidya

Updated 7:46 PM ET, Fri June 1, 2018

(CNN)For anyone looking, it wouldn't have been too hard to uncover Talal Chammout's sordid past.

A simple internet search would have turned up news accounts of his criminal history, such as his assault conviction or the time a federal judge sentenced him to 6½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The judge in that case ticked off a string of allegations against Chammout at his sentencing: He had been accused of shooting a juvenile in the leg, seeking to smuggle rocket launchers into the Middle East, attacking his wife with a crowbar and plotting to hire a hit man.

Three years after he was released from prison, Chammout wanted to be an Uber driver. The company did not run a background check on him and he was allowed to drive in 2015. Three months later, he followed one of his passengers into her home and sexually assaulted her. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.

It wasn't the only time Uber welcomed a driver who should have been barred under the company's policy that excludes people with convictions of serious crimes or major driving offenses from shuttling passengers, a CNN investigation into rideshare background checks found.

Among the shady drivers who cleared Uber's screening process: A man convicted of attempted murder who is now accused of raping a passenger in Kansas City; a murderer on parole in Brazos County, Texas; a previously deported undocumented immigrant who is now facing trial for sexually assaulting three passengers and attacking another in San Luis Obispo, California. They no longer drive for Uber.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records, according to state agencies and lawsuits examined by CNN.

In statements to CNN, Uber and Lyft said their background checks are robust and fair. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in its screening process, but said, "More than 200,000 people failed our background check process in 2017 alone. While no background check is perfect, this is a process we take seriously and are committed to constantly improving."

Though both companies say they support thorough vetting, they have pushed back on government efforts to add other layers of scrutiny to the screening process. CNN found a massive lobbying effort from rideshare companies led by Uber has successfully fought off additional backgrounding requirements for drivers, such as fingerprint scans or government screening, that some state and local officials say would help protect passengers.

Uber has played a key role in shaping the language of many state laws governing rideshare companies, giving the company authority to conduct its own background checks in most states with little or no oversight, unlike many taxi operations. The company has been particularly forceful in its opposition to requirements that would force it to check criminal records through an applicant's fingerprint.

Of the 43 states that have passed laws or rules regulating rideshare driver background checks and eligibility, none require fingerprint-based checks, CNN found. In 31 states, the laws largely mirror Uber's recommended screening policies, in some cases nearly word-for-word.

Legislative sources from 25 states told CNN Uber directly influenced the writing of their laws.

"Uber has essentially regulated itself," said a former Uber employee and in-house lobbyist, who requested anonymity citing concern over possible backlash from a current employer. The former employee added that in most states, lawmakers just inserted Uber's language.

An email between an Uber lobbyist and a lawmaker underscores the point.

As Wyoming State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer prepared to introduce a bill to regulate rideshare companies in his state in December 2016, an Uber lobbyist emailed him, pushing for a change in the proposed legislation.

for complete article-

Uber driver arrested after burglarizing Reno customer's home

by Kenzie Bales

Tuesday, May 29th 2018

HERLONG, Calif. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two Lassen County residents are behind bars after a residential burglary that happened at a Reno home, according to the Lassen County Sheriff's Office.

Captain Kevin Jones says the victim, Frank Hawbolt, hired an Uber driver from his residence in Reno to a nearby concert on May 20.

When Hawbolt returned home, he discovered his home had been burglarized and several items, including an iPad, were taken. Hawbolt estimated that the total loss was approximately $17,000.

The Lassen County Sheriff's Office was able to ping Hawbolt's iPad to a residence in Herlong, California, north of Reno.

Authorities received a search warrant for the property in Herlong on May 25. While serving the warrant, almost all of the items that were reported stolen from Hawbolt's home were recovered, according to Jones.

Police determined that Reina VandeBrake, 37, was Hawbolt's Uber driver.

VandeBrake and Carlos Olivarria, 32, were arrested and booked into the Laseen County Jail on a charges of possession of stolen property. Their bail has been set at $20,000 each.

Uber eats driver arrested, charged with sexually assaulting special needs man inside restaurant

By: Nefertiti Jaquez

Updated: Apr 19, 2018 - 11:57 PM

ATLANTA - Police say they've caught an Uber Eats driver who sexually assaulted a mentally disabled man.

The victim's father says his 21-year-old son has autism and has the mental capacity of a 14-year-old. He asked us not to reveal his identity for this report.

While relieved, the victim’s father is still heartbroken and angry. 

“I don’t understand why. You’re an older guy. You’re old enough to know right from wrong. And for you to do that to a kid," he said. 

Atlanta police say Todd Barron, 54, attacked the victim in a bathroom while he was working at the downtown Mexican restaurant.

“No Mas Cantina was helpful in providing us video footage and everything and from there we were able to determine who the suspect was,” Lt. Andrea Webster with the Atlanta Police Department told Jaquez. 

They were able to quickly identity Barron because on the morning of March 25, the Uber Eats driver was at the restaurant to pick up a delivery order.

Detectives say the suspect fled to California for three weeks before returning to the metro area. 

They tracked him down when they realized he booked a flight back into Atlanta. They arrested him last week at the airport. 

We reached out to Uber and they released this statement:

“What’s been described is extremely disturbing and we are appalled. The delivery partner does not have access to the app and we stand ready to work with police on their investigation.” 

They also noted Barron had only been driving for the company since November.

Barron has been charged with aggravated sodomy and exploitation of a disabled adult.

Uber driver who raped passenger then took a selfie with her jailed for 12 years

'The harm you did that night is incalculable,' says judge

An Uber driver who raped a passenger in the back of his car before taking a selfie with her, has been jailed for 12 years.

Muhammad Khurram Durrani dropped the 27-year-old woman at her home address on the night 23 July 2016, Southwark Crown Court, heard. 

The 38-year-old “lost all sense of self-control” after taking pictures of the woman as she slept in the back of his car, Judge David Tomlinson said as he passed sentence. 

After they arrived at her home, his victim approached her front door, but Durrani picked her up from behind and carried her to the car.

There, he sexually assaulted and raped her, before taking selfie images with her while at least one of her breasts was exposed.

“It comes as no surprise to learn, and it’s no exaggeration to say, you have ruined her life," Judge Tomlinson added. “The harm you did that night is incalculable.”

He had no doubt Durrani was aware his victim was “almost paralytically drunk” when he picked her up, he said.

Uber investigating how a convicted killer was allowed to work in Brazos County



The District Attorney's office tells KBTX the murder took place in 1998. According to the Uber's driver standards, Horn may have been fine to drive.

Their policy on background checks states: "A criminal record that does not include a conviction for a felony, violent crime, or sexual offense within the last seven years, among other things such as a registration on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public website."

Local Uber drivers feel that the company may need to update their policies.

"I mean I really hope that they tighten things up. That's a company that needs to keep growing and if people know there's convicted murderers driving people around…who's going to want to take a ride?" said Tyler Hutton.

Another driver, Brandon George, added that cases like this make him question the integrity of the company.

"Honestly the character behind that I really wouldn't too much trust Uber now.," said George.

Other local riders like Hannah Chesney said hearing about Horn's past made her feel uneasy.

"This does make me feel a little bit nervous knowing that someone who has a violent crime in their past like that can be an Uber driver and be responsible for the lives of others," said Chesney.

We will continue to update this story as Uber continues their investigation of Horn.

Uber is investigating how a man convicted of murder was allowed to work for the ride sharing company in Brazos County while on parole.

Anthony Horn, 45, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday for Evading in a Vehicle.

On February 11, 2017, Horn was stopped by a Bryan Police officer at Villa Maria and 29th Street for speeding. When the officer approached the vehicle, he could smell marijuana coming from inside. When the officer asked Horn to step out of the vehicle, Horn sped off and attempted to evade the officer.

Officers soon located Horn because he had wrecked at the intersection of Villa Maria and Nash Street after nearly striking another vehicle.

During the punishment phase, prosecutors presented evidence of Horn’s prior conviction for Murder.

A Deputy U.S. Marshal testified that while Horn was incarcerated in a high security section of the Connally Unit of the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice, he used a prison-made weapon to repeatedly stab another inmate to death. At the time of the murder, Horn was serving a prison sentence for Possession of Cocaine.

Evidence was also presented that Horn, who was employed as an Uber driver at the time of this offense, was still on parole for the murder. He did not have a passenger with him at the time of the incident.

“This defendant’s decision to flee from officers placed the lives of others
in danger. His blatant disregard for the safety of others warranted a
sentence that recognizes the danger that this defendant poses," said Assistant Brazos County District Attorney Philip McLemore.

Uber says it's background checks include a Motor Vehicle Record view as well as a criminal background check.

KBTX has reached out to Uber for more comment on the situation and received the following statement:

"We are looking further into this to help understand this situation further. This person is not an active driver and has not had access to Uber since February 2017," said spokesperson Kayla Whaling.

A first Uber ride ends in sexual assault charge

CNN has documented at least 103 Uber drivers in the U.S. who have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years. A passenger who is suing Uber sat down to share her story. Her driver is charged with felony sexual battery and is awaiting trial.

Source: CNN

Watch here-

Passenger says Uber driver locked the doors, tried to take her to hotel

By Danielle Furfaro

April 17, 2018 | 3:59pm | 

Nancy Leong University of Denver

A law professor’s Uber ride to the Denver airport turned into a full-blown nightmare, when the driver told her he was going to instead take her to a hotel and pulled off the highway, she claimed in a series of tweets aimed at the ridesharing company.

Nancy Leong, who teaches at the University of Denver and has since taken down her account, said the driver wouldn’t unlock the doors even as she screamed at him.

“Hey @Uber your driver was taking me to the airport. He said he was going to ‘take me to a hotel’ and got off the highway. We got to a stop light. I started yelling ‘let me out of the f—ing car’ and he wouldn’t unlock the doors,” she tweeted.

Leong started pounding on the windows of the car, but the driver would only let her out when he saw some construction workers watching them from the side of the road. She then had to pound on the car to get the driver to remove her suitcase from the trunk.

“Then he got out of the car and started coming toward me,” she wrote. “Remember we are at a stop light at the bottom of a highway off ramp. There’s nothing around. Thank god there were construction workers there.”

The car rolled into the intersection, almost smashing into another vehicle, she said.

Leong called another Uber to take her to the airport.

Uber sent her back a canned tweet saying they were looking into the incident.

“Hi, Nancy. Our team will be reaching out to you personally,” the company tweeted. “We greatly appreciate your patience while we work to resolve this matter. Rest assured, we take this matter seriously.”

Uber officials told The Post that the company has banned the driver from the platform and is looking into the incident.

“What Nancy described is awful and unacceptable,” said a company spokesman. “This driver has been blocked from the app and we are investigating.”


Illegal immigrant Uber driver raped passenger then fled to native Ghana, police say

By Lucia I. Suarez Sang | Fox News

An Uber driver charged with raping a passenger earlier this month was able to walk free because officials failed to notify immigration agents about his arrest, authorities said.

Frederick Amfo, 30, an illegal immigrant from Ghana, was arrested after a female passenger said that on April 8 he forced her into the backseat of his car and raped her, police said. Hours after he was released from police custody, he fled to his native Ghana. He was supposed to surrender his passport but did not.

“A loss for words,” Emily Murray, the victim who insisted on being identified by the press, told Boston 25. “I was angry, I’m still angry. I’m confused.”

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Boston 25 that a federal immigration detainer should have been placed on Amfo. Weymouth police claimed it forwarded the detainer to Quincy District Court.

“The court chose not to forward the detainer to Norfolk County, allowing for his subsequent release on bail from custody,” the agency said in a statement. “This case highlights the potential dangers of policies that prohibit cooperation with ICE.”

The court told the Patriot Ledger that there was no record of an immigration detainer at the time of his arraignment.

A ruling last year made Massachusetts a sanctuary state – meaning illegal immigrants accused of a crime cannot be transferred to immigration officials.

Murray claims on April 8 she was trying to get home when Amfo allegedly locked the doors to his vehicle and sexually assaulted her in the backseat.

“Within minutes, I was in a situation I couldn’t control and I was assaulted,” she said.

Police said DNA collected from a rape kit and Amfo’s car led to his arrest days later.

Amfo was charged with sexual assault. On Friday, a Quincy District Court set bail at $10,000 and he was given a stay away order.

Court records show that Amfo was also given 24 hours to surrender his passport if he made bail. But he made bail later that afternoon without surrendering his passport.

Three days later, Murray was told that Amfo had fled to Ghana.

“If I went to Ghana and I committed a crime, I wouldn’t expect to be able to hop on plane and say sorry about that, here’s some money,” she said Tuesday. “I would expect to answer for it. Accountability. And there had been just zero.”

She told the Boston Herald that Amfo is a coward.

“He proclaims his innocence and then just leaves?” she said. “I feel hurt. … People get blamed for not coming forward and then get victimized more when they do.”

She said she doesn’t believe she will ever get justice.

“But I hope this shines a light and it won’t happen in the future,” she said, “because of me coming forward and me releasing my name and putting a face behind this whole situation.”


Uber is allegedly silencing sexual assault allegations against its drivers — here's what to know about the case


March 21, 2018 8:19 am

One of the tell-tale signs that rape culture is alive and well comes when companies force accusers to settle their sexual assault allegations behind closed doors in arbitration and then sign non-disclosure agreements. But that doesn’t just happen in Hollywood or on Capitol Hill. Actually, nine women have brought a class action lawsuit against Uber for allegedly silencing their sexual assault allegations and forcing them to settle the issue in arbitration instead of an open court.

Arbitration is, according to the American Bar Association, a private way to settle disputes. A neutral party hears evidence and then decides who’s in the right. Although there are definitely times when it might be in someone’s favor to go to arbitration, it’s usually not in the best interest of employees or consumers — especially women — when they take this route, since arbiters tend to be very white, very old, and very male. What do they know about anything, right?

The thing is, all of us are actually bound to handle disputes via arbitration, whether it’s with Uber, Lyft, or other tech companies. Pretty much all of them have it written into their terms of service, which is why Uber is standing firm in settling these sexual assault cases in a closed boardroom somewhere instead of in front of a jury. Uber didn’t immediately respond to HelloGiggles’ request for comment, but a spokesperson told Gizmodo that the women in the class action lawsuit are allowed to at least speak publicly about the process.

“The allegations brought forth in this case are important to us and we take them very seriously. Arbitration is the appropriate venue for this case because it allows the plaintiffs to publicly speak out as much as they want and have control over their individual privacy at the same time,” they said. Basically, it’s a great way to keep things out of the news.

These nine women are intent on not letting that happen. They want a jury and a trial and all of our attention, which is fair. Jeanne M Christensen, one of the women’s attorneys, told The Guardian, “Our clients deserve a trial. The goal is to force Uber to acknowledge that this is happening and to do something about it.” Another attorney at Wigdor Law, the firm representing the plaintiffs, told Gizmodo that Uber’s claim about privacy was “entirely nonsensical and a clear attempt to shield its pervasive, easily-rectified wrongdoing from the public eye.” They added that the women are very in control of their privacy and “want to litigate their claims in federal court.”

Forced arbitration is something that perpetuates rape culture, plain and simple. When you settle things behind closed doors, even if there’s a clause letting the women tweet and talk about it, they’re less likely to make headlines and fewer women will know that they’re not alone if they’ve been attacked or harassed by a man. This is one of the main things the Time’s Up organizers are fighting against — settling things quietly, writing a check, signing a contract, and being done with it is essentially telling victims to shut up and be happy it’s over. It’s telling drivers that they can get away with doing what they want. That’s just not going to fly, especially when we’re hopping in vehicles with drivers that the company is supposed to vet for us so that we can be safe.

One of the plaintiffs from Miami allegedly carried an intoxicated passengerinto her home and raped her, according to the complaint. A 26-year-old woman fom San Francisco alleges that an Uber driver pushed his way into her apartment building and then groped her. A Los Angeles woman alleges that she was assaulted when she fell asleep in the backseat. Another masturbated in the drivers seat, saying, “I thought this was what you wanted, ” to the plaintiff, according to the Daily Beast.

The women’s lawsuit blames Uber for their role in the alleged assaults throughout:

“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired. Uber has created a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims.”

Just this weekend, police arrested a Boston Uber driver for assaulting a passenger in a parked car. Simply, this happens often enough for Uber to take a stronger position when it comes to protecting female Uber passengers. If they can’t vet their drivers or train them to prevent sexual assault, the least it could do is allow plaintiffs to tell their story in a court and let a judge and jury decide. Forcing women into arbitration to protect the company image is not a good look.

Operator of self-driving Uber vehicle that killed pedestrian was felon

Bree Burkitt and Ryan Randazzo, The Republic | azcentral.comPublished 9:02 p.m. MT March 19, 2018 | Updated 11:14 p.m. MT March 19, 2018

The operator behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber vehicle that hit and killed a 49-year-old woman in Tempe Sunday night had served almost four years in an Arizona prison in the early 2000s on an attempted armed robbery conviction.

A representative for Uber declined to comment on the conviction and the company's hiring policies, citing an active investigation.

Elaine Herzberg  was walking a bike across Mill Avenue outside the crosswalk near the Marquee Theatre at about 10 p.m. when she was hit, police said.

Police said the vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator, who has been identified as 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, behind the wheel at the time of the crash. 

Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Ronald Elcock said impairment did not initially appear to be a factor for either Vasquez or Herzberg. He added it was not apparent that the vehicle attempted to slow down while it approached Herzberg.

Court records show Vasquez has a criminal record in Arizona under a different legal name. 

Records from the Arizona Department of Corrections show Vasquez served three years and 10 months in a state prison for convictions on attempted armed robbery and unsworn falsification. She was released from prison in 2005. 

The autonomous vehicles have been used to shuttle Uber passengers in parts of Tempe and Scottsdale. Riders who are picked up by a self-driving cars would likely recognize them from the presence of the exterior sensors. 

The San Francisco-based company recently came under fire for hiring felons. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission company fined Uber's parent company $8.9 million in November 2017 after an investigation determined the ride-hailing service had hired nearly 60 drivers with previous felony convictions.

Colorado state law prevents individuals with felony convictions, alcohol or drug-related driving offenses, unlawful sexual offenses and major traffic violations from working for rideshare companies.

Uber attributed the unlawful hirings to a "process area" inconsistent with Colorado's ridesharing regulations. The company said all drivers must undergo a third-party background screening "per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations."

Uber has more than 18,000 contract drivers and 1,000 employees in Arizona, with most staffers at the downtown Phoenix operations center.

Close to 300 people worked in the self-driving operations in Tempe as of November 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Uber driver accused of following woman into home, sexually assaulting her

Updated: 7:09 PM CDT Mar 16, 2018

Nick Bohr   


An Uber driver is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he drove home from a bar in Milwaukee.

The woman said he picked her up on Old World Third Street and then followed her into her house.

At bar time, the 23-year-old woman knew she couldn't drive home because she'd had too much to drink and took an Uber.

Police said the 39-year-old Uber driver helped her to the door of her Bay View home and then followed her inside and sexually assaulted her twice.

"Whenever you're out, you need to have good judgment," said Katie Wilhelm, who uses Uber. "It's a difficult call to make because either way there's a risk. Like, you don't want to drive drunk, but you also don't want to put yourself in a situation where you could be really at risk of being hurt in a different way."

Uber records led police to the driver, who didn't answer his door when WISN 12 News tried to talk to him Friday afternoon.

Uber users say the case serves as a warning, and a reminder that revelers should make sure their intoxicated friends get home safe not just into a cab or an Uber.

"That's a big problem out here with the Uber situation ... a lot of times, people get drunk. They leave their friends. And they end up out here, in the river, or get taken advantage of," Uber user LaTangelia Johnson said.

Police arrested the driver, but WISN 12 News is not naming him because he hasn't been charged yet. Prosecutors are waiting for DNA test results.

Uber released a statement saying, "What's been reported is horrible and is not tolerated on the app. As soon as we became aware of this we removed the driver's access."

Seven More Women Join Uber Sexual-Assault Lawsuit

The class-action suit now includes nine total plaintiffs who say they were raped, assaulted, harassed, or kidnapped.


03.15.18 9:43 PM ET

“I thought this is what you wanted,” an Uber driver—while masturbating—allegedly told one of the seven new plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the ride-hail giant on Thursday.

The women each say they were harassed, assaulted, kidnapped or raped by their Uber driver.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, first alleged in November 2017 that—because of its lax driver screening—the company is operating a system in which perpetrators maintain access to thousands of women to kidnap, sexually assault, and harass.

The initial suit included two plaintiffs, and the amended complaint was filed on Thursday, adding seven new plaintiffs to the case.

“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired,” the lawsuit says. “Uber has created a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims.”

Attorney Jeanne Christensen,  who represents the plaintiffs, claims that Uber filed a motion after that suit to “force these women into confidential arbitration.”

“Today, in response, we have amended the complaint to address the arbitration issue and include the claims of another seven women that have dared to participate as named plaintiffs and speak out against Uber,” Christensen said. “Uber’s goal is to stop women from getting the justice they deserve through our court system.”

The complaint claims that “Uber is frantic to deny Jane Does and thousands of female victims their right to access our judicial system, as demonstrated by Uber’s recent shameful attempt to force this action into arbitration immediately.”Christensen claims that arbitration “would prevent the public from learning about the frequency and severity of rapes and sexual assaults by Uber drivers against innocent women.”

The class action suit seeks to include plaintiffs “who were transported by Uber drivers and were subject to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, kidnapping, or other gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years.”

The lawsuit alleges that Uber “has engaged in and continues to engage in unlawful, fraudulent and unfair practices that are substantially likely to mislead the public.”

Plaintiffs are seeking damages to be determined at jury trial and a permanent injunction to prevent repeated alleged irresponsibility in the future.

Thousands of women have been attacked by Uber drivers since the company was first launched in 2010, according to the lawsuit, including cases of “rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment.”

“As she fought her driver, he kept saying ‘I need one minute, I need to kiss you.’”

Jane Doe 1 says she was raped one October 2016 night in Miami by her Uber driver, who noticed she was “barely conscious” while riding home from a restaurant with her friend.

The driver, who was charged with a felony in Miami before that night, allegedly threw Doe 1 over his shoulder and carried her upstairs and into her bedroom. Her friend, who was upset and afraid, hid in the bathroom while the man raped Doe 1, the lawsuit claims.

The man was later charged and allegedly admitted to police that “he was wrong for what he did.” That case is still pending, according to the lawsuit. Uber refunded Doe’s receipt from the ride but never confirmed that the man was deactivated as a driver.

Jane Doe 2, who lives in Los Angeles, was drinking at a dinner with friends when she called a car. She fell asleep in the backseat of her Uber and awoke to her driver’s mouth on her vulva, the lawsuit claims.

He drove her home and raped her while she was “in and out of consciousness,” according to the complaint.

Jane Doe 3, a 26-year-old who lives in San Francisco, requested an Uber after a holiday party in December 2017. When she got home, the driver offered to help her into her apartment. Even though she said no, he followed her inside, pushing himself into the foyer, the lawsuit claims.

He “held her in a bear hug as he groped her and attempted to force himself on her,” the complaint states. As she fled, he followed her to her apartment door, where he groped her and put his hands up her dress, according to the suit.

“Doe 3 managed to punch him in the stomach hard enough that she was able to get into her apartment,” the lawsuit states.

The man’s name, date of birth and personal address match the name, date of birth and personal address of a man who is listed as a registered sex offender in Berkeley, California, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 4, a 42-year-old woman in Des Moines, Iowa was in a ride home from a bar when the driver began “asking her strange questions.”

She looked away and then realized “he had his penis out.”

Doe 4 told him to stop, but he responded: “I thought this is what you wanted,” the lawsuit claims.

He then allegedly grabbed Doe 4’s knee and tried to kiss her. Doe 4 asked him to take her back to the bar because it was a “public area rather than her home,” the lawsuit states.

“At this, Howard removed his penis from his pants again, and began masturbating, even though Ms. Doe 4 kept protesting and threatened to call the police,” the lawsuit claims.

“Doe 4 was furious at the possibility [the driver] could do this again to more unsuspecting women, so she grabbed his phone, threw it on the ground away from him, and took the broken pieces into the bar,” the document alleges.

“She gave the broken phone pieces to the bartender, who called police,” according to the lawsuit.

The case is under investigation, and the driver was allegedly deactivated from the app.

Jane Doe 5, a 33-year-old, was out drinking with a friend in October 2016 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. When she got into the Uber, which should have been a 40-minute ride, she blacked out.

More than two hours later, the driver was trying to carry her unconscious body from the backseat of the vehicle, the suit says. When the woman’s boyfriend approached the odd scene, the driver pushed Doe 5 back into the car and drove off with her, according to the complaint.

The driver allegedly dropped her off one block away from her home—in an apparent attempt to avoid the woman’s boyfriend. Doe 5’s boyfriend took her home, and “she awoke the next morning with no recollection of the previous night,” the lawsuit states.

Uber allegedly responded to her complaints by telling her she would no longer be paired with this driver anymore but still hasn’t refunded her ride. That driver is still working for Uber, according to the lawsuit.

Doe 5 filed a police report, but the lawsuit claims “Uber has refused to cooperate with the investigation.”

In December 2017, 31-year-old Jane Doe 6 was trying to get home from a holiday party about 1 a.m. in West Hollywood, California. She took an Uber, drifting in and out of consciousness during the course of the ride, at one point vomiting on the side of the road. She awoke and found the Uber driver sexually assaulting her, the lawsuit claims. The driver dropped her off one block away from her house, according to the complaint. She filed a police report one week later. The driver was arrested on December 23, 2017 and charged with digital penetration and oral copulation, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 7, a 21-year-old New Yorker, ordered an Uber Pool to take her home from dinner at about 1 a.m. When the car arrived at her home in Brooklyn, she tried to get out.

The driver allegedly said, “I need one minute,” got into the backseat, groped her and forcibly tried to kiss her, according to the lawsuit. As she fought him, he kept saying, “I need one minute, I need to kiss you.”

Doe 7 eventually grabbed her purse, hit him in the face, and fled the vehicle.

He allegedly yelled at her while she fumbled for her keys to get inside. Doe 7 filed a police report. Uber has not terminated its relationship with the driver, and he still drives for the company, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 8, a 19-year-old in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said her Uber driver in August 2016 began asking her personal and inappropriate questions as soon as she got into the car.

Her bicycle was in the backseat, so she sat in the front.

“I heard private school girls are wild,” he allegedly said, asking if she had a boyfriend or had ever had sex.

Then, he “began rubbing Ms. Doe 8’s leg, beginning at her knee and reaching up her thigh,” according to the suit. She moved closer to the window, but the driver kept rubbing her arms and shoulders, the complaint alleges.

“She asked the driver to stop the vehicle so that she could get out and walk back to campus,” but he refused, according to the complaint.

He allegedly asked if he could kiss her, but she said “no.”

When they arrived at campus, he allegedly said, “I have to kiss you,” and forcibly grabbed and kissed her.

The driver was convicted of sexual assault in the woman’s case, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 9, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ordered an Uber home from a bar about 2 a.m. in October 2017.

Her phone died before the car got there.

“The Uber driver began driving on the highway in the wrong direction,” according to the lawsuit, at which point Doe 9 began panicking.

But the driver allegedly told her “not to panic” and “began touching her legs, putting his hand down her shirt and feeling her breasts,” the complaint states. Though she was begging the man to take her home, he instead pulled off the highway and parked in his own apartment complex, according to the lawsuit.

When she refused to get out of the vehicle, she said the driver tried to pull her out. Doe 9 screamed, and a neighbor came out to see what was going on.

“Doe 9 shook her head to indicate that everything was not alright,” according to the complaint.

The neighbor helped her, and Doe 9, who was “hysterical and continued to feel unsafe,” called police, and the driver was arrested, the lawsuit claims. He was allegedly charged with kidnapping, indecent assault, false imprisonment, and harassment.

He allegedly told police that he wasn’t actually logged in on the app as a driver, but “that she looked intoxicated, so he picked her up,” according to the complaint.

The driver was terminated from the company after a report, according to the lawsuit.

An Uber spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the company takes the allegations “very seriously.”

“Arbitration is the appropriate venue for this case because it allows the plaintiffs to publicly speak out as much as they want and have control over their individual privacy at the same time,” it said.

Uber fired at least 20 employees last year in the aftermath of an investigation into its workplace culture after former employee Susan Fowler published a detailed account online of the sexual harassment she experienced at the company.

Jury convicts Uber driver of raping passenger

Marc Freeman Sun Sentinel

The jury rejected his claims of a consensual sexual romp, and Uber driver Gary Kitchings now stands convicted of raping a passenger he picked up after SunFest last year.

A weeklong trial ended Friday with a guilty verdict on five felony charges for the 58-year-old former foster care provider, who drove part-time for the ride sharing service.

Kitchings testified his front-seat passenger was flirtatious, and it turned into a consensual sex “good time” hook up at her Jupiter condo before he returned to Uber driving the same night.

Gary Kitchings, 58, testifies in a Palm Beach County courtroom on March 15, 2018, in his own defense against charges of raping a woman after giving her a Uber ride from SunFest last year.

 But his 38-year-old accuser said her ride home in Kitchings’ Nissan Versa and the attack in her home were terrifying. She told the jury that Kitchings was a “monster” who locked the car doors, threatened to shoot her unless she performed a sex act and swallow his urine while he drove, and then broke into her home and raped her.

It took nine hours of deliberations over two days, but the panel of five men and one woman decided the woman was a victim. Kitchings was acquitted of one sexual battery count, over the alleged oral sex in the car.

“I’m so very happy with the verdict,” the woman told reporters outside the courtroom, asking not to be identified. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, for an amazing jury. I wish I could thank each of them in person.” Juror 5, one of the men on the panel, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that they took their time going through the evidence because “you don’t want to make the wrong decision.” The juror, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was “a classic case” of he-said, she-said and ultimately they decided she was raped.

The woman, who lives in New York City and runs an online skin care products company, also praised prosecutors Marci Rex and Brianna Coakley as “heroes.” Rex said the verdict was a relief because it didn’t turn out to be another case where the woman is blamed for claiming rape. “It’s so rewarding to know the jurors could look at the evidence and look even at the victim’s word and not just say that it’s a he said, she said,” the prosecutor said. “It speaks volumes on a shift in the rape climate to know that they usually blame the victim and this time they didn’t do that.”

Kitchings was found guilty of three counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or physical force, one count of burglary with assault or battery, and false imprisonment.

Kitchings then returned to Palm Beach County Jail and will face up to life in prison when he is sentenced May 18 by Chief Circuit Judge Krista Marx.

Assistant Public Defenders Stephen Arbuzow and Raquel Tortora vowed to challenge the convictions.

One of the grounds for the appeal is expected to be Judge Marx’s refusal to let the defense inform the jury that Kitchings’ accuser had made a rape claim against a different man over an encounter in a New York City hotel in 2016. The defendant in that case also says it was consensual, and a trial is likely in April.

“We’re disappointed in the way this turned out,” Arbuzow told reporters. “We believe Mr. Kitchings is an innocent man.”

 Gary Kitchings appears in this May 8, 2017 booking photo.

 (Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

After his arrest, Kitchings lost his jobs with Uber and a foster home facility in suburban West Palm Beach.

On the witness stand, Kitchings said he was guilty only of cheating on his wife, saying he was flattered by the attention from the younger woman he picked up May 7, 2017, following the West Palm Beach arts and music festival.

“She asked me if I cheat,” he said, denying that anything sexual happened in the car. “I wasn’t opposed to any of it.”

Kitchings said once they got to her place, the woman said it wasn’t necessary for him to grab a condom from his trunk, and he recalled, “She had this nice grin on her face.”

During his closing argument Thursday, Arbuzow said the woman was lying and putting on an act when she called 911 after Kitchings went back on the road. The jurors listened to a recording of the woman crying to the operator on the call.

Arbuzow said he was afraid the jury would convict his client “just because it sounds horrible,” suggesting the woman cried rape because she had regrets about the hook-up, or possibly she wanted to make an excuse for selling her condo. He also said police never found a gun.

But the prosecutors said the woman had no reason to make up the rape, which meant undergoing an invasive hospital exam and later testifying before strangers in court.

They also said that in the days before the attack she was with her boyfriend in Mexico, and would never be attracted to an overweight Uber driver for what the defense branded a “one night stand.”

“This was the worst night of her life,” prosecutor Rex said.