A first Uber ride ends in sexual assault charge

After a night of cocktails in San Diego, a lady obtained into the again of an Uber for a trip dwelling. She was so intoxicated she needed to ask the motive force to cease so she may vomit. She says she then handed out within the backseat.

When she regained consciousness, the Uber driver was on prime of her, raping her, a block from her dwelling, in keeping with the police report and two sources accustomed to the investigation.

The Red Tea Detox

She was in a position to escape and dial 911.

Police later arrested the Uber driver, John David Sanchez, 54. After they searched his pc, they discovered movies of Sanchez raping girls and abusing younger youngsters, courting again at the least 5 years.

In November, Sanchez was sentenced to 80 years in jail for the rape of the Uber passenger and 33 different counts in opposition to him, together with sexual assaults of at the least 9 different girls and kids. Sanchez drugged lots of his victims.

A CNN investigation has discovered that Sanchez is only one of at the least 103 Uber drivers within the U.S. who’ve been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers up to now 4 years. The drivers had been arrested, are needed by police, or have been named in civil fits associated to the incidents. A minimum of 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes starting from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and dozens of legal and civil instances are pending, CNN discovered.

There isn’t a publicly out there information for the variety of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or for drivers of different rideshare corporations. CNN’s evaluation comes from an in-depth evaluate of police studies, federal court docket information and county court docket databases for 20 main U.S. cities.

103 Uber drivers accused of assault or abuse

In one other case examined by CNN, a lady from Miami left her youngsters with their grandmother and went to a bar with a good friend. She took an Uber dwelling. She says she handed out alongside the best way and awakened the following morning along with her pants and underwear on the ground.

The Uber driver allegedly carried her into her house, threw her onto the mattress and sexually assaulted her. She is a plaintiff in a proposed class motion lawsuit in opposition to Uber.

“You might be just about hitchhiking with strangers,” she instructed CNN. “How many individuals is it going to take to get assaulted earlier than one thing is completed?”

In accordance with police, the motive force instructed them he knew the sufferer had been consuming and was “incorrect for what he did.” He pleaded not responsible for sexual battery and awaits trial.

A girl in Lengthy Seashore, California, who alleges she fell asleep intoxicated behind an Uber in 2016, instructed CNN that she awakened with the motive force assaulting her. The motive force, 47, was discovered the following day along with her cellphone and later arrested. He claimed the intercourse was consensual and the district legal professional dropped the legal case in opposition to him. She is suing Uber over the incident and for representing its companies as “secure.”

“You do not assume it can occur to you,” she instructed CNN. “I nonetheless really feel ashamed … that is why I am right here. I need a voice. [I’m] bored with being quiet.”

Uber: ‘We wish to be a part of the answer’

Uber, which launched in 2010 in San Francisco as “everybody’s personal driver,” is probably the most worthwhile privately-held tech startup on the planet. It’s valued at $70 billion and operates in 630 cities worldwide. Uber gives 15 million rides a day.

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The problem of sexual assault conflicts with Uber’s model messaging to supply a “secure trip dwelling.” Its print and digital advertisements present girls taking Ubers for nights out, and a partnership with Moms In opposition to Drunk Driving features a “designated rider” marketing campaign urging customers to take an Uber to keep away from driving below the affect. In 2015, Uber arrange a popup kiosk in Toronto to supply free rides to those that blew into breathalyzers.

That is vital given lots of the girls raped or attacked by the 103 accused drivers uncovered as part of CNN’s investigation had been consuming, or had been inebriated, on the time of the incidents.

Nearly all of the police studies reviewed by CNN concerned incidents that came about in or close to main cities throughout the nation. Uber didn’t present numbers on what number of of its drivers have been accused of sexual assaults.

5 drivers throughout numerous states instructed CNN they weren’t supplied any sort of sexual harassment or assault coaching. Drivers comply with the corporate’s neighborhood tips once they signal as much as work for the service. Uber stated it up to date its requirements in December 2016 to specify no sexual contact is permitted when utilizing its platform.

Final week, the corporate posted a sexual assault prevention video on its web site to tell drivers and riders “find out how to create a safer neighborhood.” It additionally stated it plans to host 50 neighborhood boards nationwide for advocates, leaders, drivers and riders throughout to speak concerning the problem. The adjustments got here after CNN first contacted Uber about this story.

Uber was made conscious of CNN’s reporting for this story months in the past however the firm did not make any executives out there to talk on the document. It canceled an on-camera interview with an Uber govt earlier this month.

On a name with CNN final week for an unrelated story, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stated cracking down on sexual assault is a “new precedence for us.”

“It’s a precedence that I count on to stay a precedence for the foreseeable future,” stated Khosrowshahi, who joined the corporate in late August after cofounder Travis Kalanick stepped down.

In a latest assertion despatched to CNN, an Uber spokesperson stated security is the corporate’s prime precedence this 12 months and cited latest protocol updates comparable to rerunning driver background checks on an annual foundation transferring ahead. The corporate additionally stated it plans to roll out a devoted “security heart” inside the Uber app the place riders can designate contacts they wish to share journey particulars with whereas they trip; it can even have an emergency button permitting customers to name 911 from contained in the app.

“That is only a begin and we’re dedicated to doing extra,” the spokesperson stated. “Sexual assault is a horrible crime that has no place wherever. Whereas Uber isn’t proof against this societal problem, we wish to be a part of the answer to finish this violence without end.”

Lyft, an Uber competitor that gives a million rides every day in the USA and Canada, can be coping with sexual assaults by its drivers. An analogous CNN evaluate utilizing the identical methodology discovered 18 instances of Lyft drivers accused up to now 4 years. 4 drivers have been convicted.

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“The security of the Lyft neighborhood is our prime precedence,” stated a Lyft spokesperson, including it has “labored exhausting to design insurance policies and options that defend our neighborhood.”

It’s normal for Uber and Lyft drivers to work for each companies. However every firm performs its personal background checks. Each corporations largely conduct digital background checks by way of a startup referred to as Checkr.

Uber stated it evaluations the information of driver candidates which can be surfaced to the corporate by its background verify supplier. It stated any severe legal convictions, like sexual assault, intercourse crimes in opposition to youngsters and kidnapping, would disqualify candidates.

The corporate beforehand did not have a uniform coverage on rerunning legal background checks. However when pressed by CNN, a spokesperson stated in January it began working screenings on drivers each two years in mid-2017. Along with its latest announcement about annual background checks on drivers, Uber plans to observe new legal offenses (by way of public information or pending DUI expenses) as they occur.

CNN discovered two cases through which drivers pleaded responsible to sexual assaults whereas working for each Uber and Lyft.

In a single case, a Seattle driver started driving for Lyft after Uber discharged him, in keeping with court docket paperwork. He later sexually assaulted a Lyft rider. Within the different case, a driver pleaded responsible in San Diego to indecent publicity and the false imprisonment of an Uber passenger, in addition to battery for a separate incident involving a Lyft passenger.

Police are monitoring reported crimes by drivers

Of the 103 Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse, for 18 of them, legal instances didn’t transfer ahead both as a result of expenses had been dropped, instances had been dismissed, or drivers had been discovered not responsible.

The district attorneys and cops who spoke to CNN stated instances do not transfer ahead for a number of causes, comparable to missing a possible trigger or witness cooperation.

Along with discovering the 103 drivers accused of crimes or named in a civil lawsuit, CNN contacted greater than 20 police departments to acquire information on complaints that concerned Uber or Lyft drivers and sexual assault. 4 police departments — Austin, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles — tracked crimes involving rideshare drivers and shared their information on sexual assault complaints.

CNN didn’t embrace most of those complaints in its tally of instances, as a result of they may not all be verified with incident studies.

Nonetheless, the numbers recommend that there could also be many extra general incidents of sexual assault than the 103 instances discovered within the CNN investigation.

The Boston Police Division obtained 24 complaints or studies of Uber drivers allegedly sexually assaulting passengers since 2016. The division obtained three assault-related complaints involving Lyft drivers throughout the identical interval.

Since 2016, the Los Angeles Police Division has obtained at the least 13 related complaints about Uber drivers, eight concerning Lyft drivers and greater than a dozen about ride-share drivers whose corporations had been unclear in information shared with CNN. Solely a type of instances led to an arrest.

In Austin, police have documented at the least 16 sexual assault complaints about Uber drivers — and at the least ten about Lyft drivers — since 2015.

In the meantime, the Denver police division has recorded at the least 9 sexual assault or abuse complaints about Uber drivers and at the least 12 about Lyft drivers since 2015, however solely two of these complaints resulted in legal expenses. Many of the different Denver instances grew to become inactive attributable to lack of witness cooperation or had been refused by the district legal professional for lack of proof.

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Lawyer: Uber has been ‘preserving this story quiet’

Jeanne Christensen, an legal professional with regulation agency Wigdor LLP, has been pursuing Uber rape and assault instances since 2015 when her agency filed a lawsuit after a high-profile rape case in New Delhi. The Uber driver, who had a earlier document that included rape and molestation, was sentenced to life in jail. The incident sparked protests and triggered authorities to quickly ban Uber from town for six weeks.

That case, and questions on how Uber dealt with it, thrust the difficulty into the highlight.

Most lately, Christensen’s agency represents a proposed class motion in opposition to Uber on behalf of 9 plaintiffs, together with the Miami girl CNN interviewed, who stated they had been assaulted by Uber drivers.

Uber is making an attempt to compel the ladies to hold out their case by way of arbitration per its authorized phrases of service. When customers join Uber, they comply with its phrases, which incorporates resolving any declare “on a person foundation in arbitration.”

Christensen and the ladies are pushing again. In a letter to Uber’s board, 14 girls detailed their experiences and urged the corporate to take away its arbitration clause, saying it silences them and forces the difficulty underground.

“We trusted an organization working within the house of transportation for rent to imply what it says, and we by no means thought that Uber would perpetuate bodily violence in opposition to girls,” they wrote.

Uber passenger alleging rape speaks

An Uber spokesperson beforehand issued an announcement to CNN about forcing the case into arbitration, calling it the “acceptable venue for this case as a result of it permits the plaintiffs to publicly converse out as a lot as they need and have management over their particular person privateness on the similar time.”

Over time, Christensen stated she seen a pattern in those that’ve come to her agency for assist: Victims are typically feminine and petite, stay alone, and had been inebriated on the time of the alleged assault, she instructed CNN.

“If a driver goes to enter her dwelling, he has [likely] requested her sufficient questions and is aware of she lives alone,” she stated.

Christensen — who stated she’s presently representing 16 girls who alleged they have been been raped or attacked by Uber drivers — is not going to say what number of instances in opposition to Uber her agency has dealt with, citing confidentiality.

A number of attorneys throughout the nation had been equally silent about their instances in opposition to Uber. Like many massive corporations, Uber requires all events to signal a confidentially settlement when a case is settled.

“We aren’t merely submitting instances so Uber [can] pay girls cash and their attorneys to be quiet about it,” she instructed CNN. “That was a aware determination that we made. Uber has executed a miraculous job at preserving this story quiet.”

— Extra reporting by CNN’s Majlie de Puy Kamp, Collette Richards and Whitney Clegg.

CNNMoney (New York) First printed April 30, 2018: 5:43 PM ET



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