Your monthly helping of serious ridesharing allegations
It’s been a weird month for Uber.
First reports broke about the Michigan shooter who killed six people filing a lawsuit claiming that Uber’s smartphone app possessed him and controlled his thoughts. This turned out to be a hoax: As entertaining as it would’ve been to watch a judge smack down a handwritten lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages due to a modern ghost story, the sheriff’s department in Kalamazoo said the shooter “did not send it, did not authorize it and does not know who sent it.”
Then Farrah Abraham, a woman originally famous for appearing on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” whose latest claim to fame is appearing in a sex tape with rapist-next-door James Deen, said that an Uber driver almost raped her. She then said that the driver “looked at her lecherously” and that things “could have escalated into a rape situation.” That makes two salacious headlines -- one involving a shooter and the other involving a whole other kind of reality star -- bogus.
Now let’s get to the real stories.
First, an actual rape. This one involves an Uber driver in El Cajon, California who was arrested on March 29 on charges of raping a drugged woman who rode in his vehicle on February 26. An Uber spokesperson told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the driver, John Sanchez, passed a background check and was nixed from Uber’s platform when the company learned of the arrest.
Before that, an Uber driver in London extorted a drunk passenger by stretching out a £15 trip into a £102 journey by taking a 20-mile detour around the city. The passenger told the Telegraph that Uber apologized for the incident and promised to refund him for the trip. It’s not clear whether or not the driver involved in the incident is still allowed to book rides via Uber’s service.
On March 25, an Uber driver in Bengaluru was arrested for allegedly “misbehaving” with a female passenger. The Hindu reported that the driver “allegedly stopped the car several times near Silk Board signal” and “allegedly touched himself inappropriately.” The driver has denied the accusations, which came to light after the passenger’s brother shared them on social media.
Here’s a fun one: An Uber driver in Australia refused to pick up a blind man with a service dog. This has happened several times in the United States and, in both countries, it’s illegal for drivers to refuse service to someone with a disability. To add insult to injury, the man who hailed the ride was charged a $10 cancellation fee; Uber issued a refund after he contacted them.
Earlier this month, two Uber drivers in East Lansing were arrested after a string of sexual assaults that occurred in January and February. The Detroit Free Press reported that the two “allegedly made unwelcome sexual advances toward female Michigan State University students,” with multiple women complaining about “inappropriate touching.” Uber said the two have been removed from its service and that it has been assisting police with their investigation.
Just a day prior, an Uber driver in Anaheim was arrested for allegedly raping a woman at a hotel after giving her a ride from a nearby bar. The Orange County Register reported that the driver faced charges of “rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by foreign object” due to the incident, which occurred on October 25. This driver, like the others, was banned from Uber’s platform and the company said that it helped authorities with their investigation into the matter.
On March 12, RNZ reported that an Uber driver in New Zealand was removed from the platform after a 15-year-old girl complained on social media that he asked her for her cell phone number. This isn’t technically a crime, but after the girl’s mother emailed Uber about the incident, the company looked into the complaint and decided to permanently deactivate the driver’s account.
Second-to-last but not least is the Uber driver who was accused of staging a vomit scene so he could charge a $200 clean-up fee. Gross! But also a potential consequence of the continuing rate cuts Uber drivers have had to endure over the last several months. It’s like they always said -- desperate times call for staged photos of vomit over the dashboard of a car that will eventually be replaced with a self-driving vehicle some time between “soon” and “when the sun explodes.”
Finally, on March 1, a woman said her Uber driver “sexually assaulted her by grabbing her breasts and exposing his penis to her in his car in Brooklyn,” according to the New York Post. Uber told the Post that it was looking into the allegation and that it removed the driver from its platform while it did so and, of course, that it was assisting the NYPD with its investigation.
Earlier this week, Boston police announced that two Uber drivers were robbed merely an hour apart. According to the local CBS station, the first robbery involved two men who asked to be taken a location and stole their driver’s wallet, keys, and cellphone when they arrived; the second involved three men (perhaps the same ones) who copied the cycle with another driver.
Also this week an Uber driver in Miami-Dade was robbed at gunpoint. The driver was giving a woman a ride to her home when a man jumped out with a revolver, told the driver to get out, and drove away with the man’s car. Police are said to have found the car later on, but lost it during a high-speed chase.
An Uber driver in South Africa was killed by a gunshot on March 25. The company said that it doesn’t appear that the man was killed because he was an Uber driver; police told the Associated Press that they haven’t yet arrested someone for the crime and were trying to figure out a possible motive.
Last week, an Uber driver taped a University of Michigan student who called him a “minimum wage faggot” and said “go fuck yourself.” The student alleges that his tirade was prompted by anti-Semitic comments from the driver. Both have been suspended from the service while Uber looks into the issue.
Previously, a St. Charles man was arrested and charged with “aggravated assault, reckless conduct and two counts of battery,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The man was drunk at the time and fell asleep in the back of the Uber driver’s vehicle -- when the driver attempted to wake him to figure out where he wanted to be dropped off, the man “became enraged and attacked.”
On March 20, an Uber driver from Senegal was killed in Detroit. The Daily Mail reported that he was the second driver from West Africa to be killed in the last month. This driver, Modou Diagne, left behind three children who are less than six years old as well as a pregnant wife. Diagne was shot twice and, after he crashed at an intersection, his cellphone was stolen from his vehicle.