Uber once again finds one of its drivers accused of sexual assault.
On the heels of the forced suspension of its services in New Delhi following rape claims, Uber once again finds one of its drivers accused of sexual assault. The backlash has been global following the arrest of Uber driver Shiv Kumar Yadav after allegations of raping a 25-year old woman.
Uber’s commitment to safety
Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, immediately addressed the issue saying:
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“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.”
Speaking more globally on the matter was Phillip Cardenas, the head of global safety at Uber who recently defending the company’s safety record, “No background check can predict future behavior and no technology can yet fully prevent bad actions,” Cardenase said in a blog post Wednesday. “But our responsibility is to leverage every smart tool at our disposal to set the highest standard in safety we can.”
Those remarks were made the same day that an Uber driver in Boston was arrested for an alleged sexual assault on December 6.
Responsible for the alleged attack was Alejandro Done, 46 who works for Uber as a driver but was not working that evening. Presumably, he used information available to him as a contractor at Uber to find the victim waiting outside for a ride. Police allege that he broke Uber protocol saying he needed to be paid in cash, and the woman agreed to be driven to an ATM. He is accused of then driving her to a remote location and raping her.
The charges and DA warning
Done was arraigned on charges of rape, assault to rape, kidnapping and two counts of assault and battery, according to a statement from the Middlesex District Attorney’s office on Wednesday. This is not the first claim of sexual assault against ride-sharing drivers that Boston police are currently investigating following a spate of recent claims.
This recent spate of allegations against Uber are by no means the first time a woman has been assaulted by a taxi driver well before the emergence of services like Lyft, Uber and others began offering ride-sharing in the smartphone age. For that matter, men have been assaulted by drivers in the employ of traditional taxi companies. Prosecutors in New Jersey are presently investigating a New Jersey man’s claim that a cab driver sexually assaulted him after the driver allegedly got angry when he talked on his cellphone while a passenger in the vehicle. That was just two weeks ago.
“While these services are a convenience, and often a necessity of modern urban living, we urge everyone to take precautions to ensure they are as safe as possible,” District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement. “Confirm that the car you are getting into is the particular one you have ordered. Be cautious if the driver is asking you to do something that you understand to be against company policy, as when they request you pay by cash when you understand that the company receives payment by credit card.”
“This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery,” Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh wrote in a statement to me and other news outlets. “Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation.”