An Uber driver was arrested over the weekend following reports that he sexually assaulted a passenger. According to CBS 5, the driver picked up a female rider early Saturday morning in Palo Alto and stands accused of keeping her trapped in his car while assaulting her.
The unnamed passenger reportedly hailed an Uber Pool, the version of the service that pairs strangers together for shared rides, after a night of socializing with friends near the 200 block of University Avenue. ABC 7 reports that the driver, 59-year-old Rodolf Vjerdha, insisted the passenger get in the front seat so that he could fit other customers in the back. Once in the car, KRON 4 notes the driver is accused of locking the doors and canceling ride requests from other would-be passengers.
Vjerdha then allegedly began touching the woman's leg — refusing her requests to stop the car and let her out. Once they arrived at the woman's home, Vjerdha, CBS 5 tells us, asked that she take him inside. The passenger managed to get out of the car — without Vjerdha — and called the police shortly thereafter.
"[He began] touching her on the leg, and upon her arrival at her destination he gave her a kiss and throughout that time she was subsequently let out and called the police department," Palo Alto Police Department Sergeant Rod Tuason told ABC 7.
Vjerdha was arrested later that day by the East Palo Alto police department. An Uber spokesperson told KRON 4 that the driver has been "banned from using Uber that this type of behavior would be a clear violation of community guidelines.”
This alleged assault comes just a few months after leaked internal Uber customer supports documents showed over 6,000 mentions of "sexual assault" in a two and a half year period ending in August, 2015.
In the wake of Vjerdha's arrest, police are investigating whether or not he has had other victims.