September 22, 2017 

A 13-year-old Florida girl riding Lyft alone in the middle of the night was killed when her 17-year-old driver ran off a wet highway into some trees. The 17-year-old driver had only a learner’s permit; he was using his mother’s Lyft account to make money.

The driver picked up the 13-year-old girl in her pajamas in front of her house at 1:30 a.m. She was sneaking out to a boy’s house. The girl’s grandmother was sleeping while her mother, a nurse, was working the overnight shift. Reportedly, the child died on the return trip when the 17-year-old picked her back up at 5:30 a.m. and was driving her home.

What a disaster.

The girl’s mother is reportedly suing Lyft for violating its own policy which prohibits unaccompanied minors.

Lawsuit technicalities aside, this extremely sad case involves circumstances we’ve seen repeatedly:

Uber and Lyft drivers ferry unaccompanied minors all the time. The companies say it’s against their policy, but haven’t made any significant efforts to stop it. “They know what’s happening and are looking the other way,” says Harry Campbell at The Rideshare Guy.

Busy parents = profit.

The 17-year-old Lyft driver borrowed his mother’s app login to make money. Sometimes it’s friends who borrow the app. Uber and Lyft are aware of this, too. Obviously, these unauthorized replacement drivers have never received any background check and yet repeatedly slip behind the wheel.

More unfortunate patterns: Passengers don’t reliably check to make sure the Uber or Lyft driver’s name, face, car and license plate matches what’s provided by the app. Obviously, this 13-year-old girl sneaking out of her house in her pajamas didn’t even notice her driver wasn’t a woman.

Finally, the driver and passenger may have arranged a cash trip here. Else how did the same driver come to pick up the same girl four hours later at 5:30 a.m.?  Did the Lyft app coincidentally summon him again? Or, did he simply arrange to pick her up later? If there was a verbal arrangement, this may have been a cash trip performed outside of the Lyft app. And if this was a cash trip, there was no insurance coverage whatsoever on this ride. Meaning: If this car had hit a family of six, instead of a tree, any damages to the family could be uncompensated by insurance.

There are so many things wrong with an unscreened 17-year-old with a learner’s permit picking up an unaccompanied 13-year-old girl in the middle of the night that it boggles the mind.

There’s really only two things for sure about this trip:

#1 Lyft profited financially;

#2 Lyft and Uber should take active steps to ban children riding unaccompanied.

Source: http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/blog/lyft-and-unaccompanied-minor-trip-death

Former Uber driver admits to exposing himself to multiple young girls

Updated on August 16, 2017 at 4:24 PM Posted on August 16, 2017 at 8:45 AM

By Melissa Hanson

A former Uber driver will spend 2 and 1/2 years in jail after admitting to exposing himself to multiple young girls in Malden and Everett last year, officials said.

Paul Griffin, 29, of Malden, pleaded guilty in Middlesex Superior Court on Tuesday to charges in connection with the series of indecent exposure incidents, according to the office of Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan.

Griffin was charged with six counts of open and gross lewdness, six counts of accosting and annoying a person of the opposite sex, operating a motor vehicle to endanger, failure to stop for police and resisting arrest.

Judge Christopher Barry-Smith sentenced Griffin to 2 and 1/2 years in the House of Correction, Ryan's office said. The judge also ordered that Griffin serve 3 years of probation, undergo a sex offender evaluation with all follow up treatment, stay away from all of the victims, wear a GPS monitoring bracelet for 6 months and refrain from any employment with a ride sharing or taxi company.

The first indecent exposure occurred on Aug. 7, 2016, read a statement from Ryan's office. Malden Police responded to the intersection of Mount Vernon and Starbird Street, where two juvenile girls told officers that a a man drove up next to them while they were walking and exposed himself.

On Aug. 27, another juvenile girl told Malden police that a week prior, she and a friend were walking on Hunting Street when a man in a car exposed himself to them.


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.


Driver in Uber rape case will spend Christmas in jail

Julia Madibogo | 06 December, 2016 14:29

A former Uber driver‚ accused of robbing‚ kidnapping and raping his passengers will spend Christmas in jail.

The 25-year-old along with three of his alleged accomplices appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday where they all dropped their bail bids.

Elias Mankgane‚ Daniel Maswikaneng‚ Themba Mkwanazi and Bangu Sikosana were remanded in police custody until their matter appears in court again on February 6.

The four men face charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances‚ multiple rapes and kidnapping.

The men allegedly went on an spree attacking Uber passengers around Johannesburg this year.

In one incident a complainant was allegedly robbed of about R5‚000 and raped in a veld after getting into the Uber taxi she had called to collect her from Montecasino in Fourways.

The complainants’ lawyer Ulrich Roux said the men abandoned bail in fears that their stories will not add up in court.

Roux said: "We are happy that the men are not somewhere out there but they are in police custody and will not be getting bail. All four of them are in custody and we will make sure that justice for the victims prevail."

The attacks were carried out using the same modus operandi. The complainants described that upon entering the taxi‚ two men jumped from the boot through a back seat and started attacking them.

The men kidnapped the passengers‚ robbed and raped some of the victims.

The Uber driver previously denied that he was involved in any of the attacks‚ saying he may have driven the vehicle but knows nothing of the attacks on the alleged victims.

“I was the driver of the motor vehicle in which the complainants allegedly travelled in‚” he said in a sworn statement adding that he does not know the complainants.

The matter was postponed to February 6 for further investigations and for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to decide on whether the matter should be transferred to a high court due to its seriousness or continue in the magistrate’s court.



{Part 2 below}

Cop probing Uber rape case was arrested for taking a bribe from suspects

Julia Madibogo | 06 December, 2016 11:26

A police officer assigned to investigate an Uber driver and his accomplices accused of various crimes was arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe.

This emerged in the Randburg Magistrates Court where the driver and three other suspects appeared on charges of kidnapping‚ robbing and sexually assaulting passengers in the Johannesburg area recently.

The police officer appeared separately in the Kempton Park Magistrates Court on charges of corruption.

“He was arrested about two months ago and has appeared in court a number of times. He will be back in court again soon‚” police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said.

The police officer‚ who was initially investigating the matter‚ was allegedly bribed by two of the suspects to avoid being charged.

The suspects and the driver are part of a gang that is being charged with attacking Uber passengers using the same modus operandi.

In one incident‚ a passenger was attacked after she called for an Uber taxi to collect her from Montecasino in August.

Upon entering the taxi‚ the woman said two men who had been hiding in the boot pushed through the back seat and attacked her.

She was allegedly taken to a deserted area were she was raped‚ assaulted and robbed. She was billed for the ride by Uber.

The woman's lawyer‚ Ulrich Roux‚ said he was happy the arrests have been made.

“The details of the police officer’s arrests are a bit sketchy‚ on my part. The Gauteng police made the arrest. He is facing corruption charges as he was initially working on the matter. We have welcomed the arrest and we believe justice will prevail in this matter‚” Roux said.



Uber driver charged with sexually abusing 14-year-old girl near Ceresville

A Frederick man was charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl he met while working as an Uber driver last month, according to county sheriff’s deputies.

Nevard Renardo Sanderson, 28, of the first block of Waverley Drive, was charged with two counts of third-degree sex offense in an arrest warrant issued Oct. 12, according to court records. He was taken into custody Tuesday and remained in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center on Wednesday on $20,000 bail, of which he was required to pay 10 percent, the records state.

Sanderson initially denied knowing the girl when deputies interviewed him at his apartment Oct. 3, according to charging documents. He eventually admitted having sex with the girl after detectives showed him a series of text messages sent to the girl’s phone from his number.

Sanderson told police that he picked the girl up as she was walking along Md. 26 at about 2 a.m. Sept. 25 after dropping off an Uber client in the area. Sanderson also said that the girl told him she was 18 and that she came on to him, the documents state.

This account differed markedly from the version of events related by the girl when she spoke with detectives at Frederick Memorial Hospital at 5:30 a.m. Sept. 26.

The girl told the detectives she snuck out of her house to take a walk at about 2 a.m. Sept. 25 and was on her way home when Sanderson pulled up in a black Chrysler 300 and offered her a ride. The girl initially turned him down, but she changed her mind when he asked her a second time, the documents state.

The girl told police she pushed Sanderson away when he tried to kiss her while stopped at a red light, but she said she got scared and complied when he coaxed her into a sex act, according to the charging documents.

Sanderson dropped the girl off near her home after exchanging phone numbers with her and promising to get her an emergency contraceptive kit the next day, according to the girl’s statements to police in charging documents.

Detectives identified Sanderson using his phone number and text messages on the girl’s phone, the documents state.

Sanderson specifically told detectives that the girl was not an Uber customer and that he picked her up on his own after dropping off a client, according to the charging documents. Sanderson has since been banned from using the Uber app, said Susan Hendrick, a company spokeswoman.

“I can confirm that this individual has used the app in the past, I can also tell you that this person has been banned from using Uber, meaning he cannot provide any more trips,” Hendrick said when reached for comment Wednesday.

“As soon as we were made aware of this incident the individual’s access to the app was removed,” Hendrick said, adding that Uber drivers work as independent contractors, not employees.

All Uber drivers are subject to screenings and background checks in accordance with an individual state’s laws before entering into a contract with the company, Hendrick said. Sanderson did not have any prior criminal arrests in an online search of Maryland court records Wednesday.

A preliminary hearing in Sanderson’s case was scheduled to take place Nov. 2 in Frederick County District Court, according to online court records.