A Boston Uber driver has been accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young woman earlier this month, the umpteenth time an Uber passenger has reportedly been assaulted recently. Alejandro Done, 46, is charged with rape, assault to rape, kidnapping, and assault and battery. He's accused of driving his passenger to a secluded area, trying to strangle her, then assaulting her.
The Boston Globe reports that Done has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stem from a December 6 incident in which he allegedly picked up the woman early one morning, when she was trying to get a ride from a friend's house back to her home. Done supposedly told her she'd need to pay him cash (which is not how Uber works) and drove her to an ATM. He's accused of then taking her to a deserted area, jumping in the back seat, choking and sexually assaulting her.
An Uber spokesperson told the Globe the incident was "a despicable crime" and that the company would work with police, a sentence that Uber spokespeople have gotten pretty good at saying of late. The Globe points out that three other Boston-area women have reported being assaulted by Uber drivers this month. An Uber passenger was recently raped in India by a man who was later found to be awaiting trial on other criminal charges during the time he was driving for the company, which says it performs background checks on all its potential drivers in every country where it's legal to do so. In October, a woman in L.A. was kidnapped and driven 20 miles by a driver who locked the doors to keep her from exiting; only when she screamed did he take her home. The next day Uber sent her an automated apology email for the "inefficient route."
A day after the latest Boston sexual assault, Uber published a blog post by Phillip Cardenas, the company's Head of Global Safety, titled "Our Commitment to Safety," which called Uber "the safest transportation option in 260 cities around the world." The post added:
But we have more work to do, and we will do it. Uber is committed to developing new technology tools that improve safety, strengthen and increase the number of cities and countries where background checks are conducted and improve communication with local officials and law enforcement.
After a rundown of their plans to improve security, Cardenas added, "Of course, no background check can predict future behavior and no technology can yet fully prevent bad actions. But our responsibility is to leverage every smart tool at our disposal to set the highest standard in safety we can. We will not shy away from this task."
Image via AP