Woman Says She Was Raped By UberX Driver in Philadelphia

Uber says it was unaware until we told them; the driver’s account has now been suspended.

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A woman has alleged that an UberX driver raped her after picking her up in Old City on February 6th, according to a report she filed with the Philadelphia Police Department. The 33-year-old told police the UberX driver held her arms down, ripped her pants, and raped her.

After the attack, he drove her around for more than two hours before letting her out of the car, according to her report, which she filed the same day as the assault.

The Philadelphia Police Department confirms that the investigation is still open, and that the case is being handled by the Special Victims Unit. Although the incident was reported to police more than 40 days ago, an Uber spokesperson tells us the company was unaware of the rape claim until we told them about it today. Neither Lieutenant Anthony McFadden nor Captain John Darby from Special Victims Unit was available for comment.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our rider,” says Uber spokesperson Taylor Bennett, who confirms that the person in question was an UberX driver. “Upon learning of the incident, we immediately reached out to the Philadelphia Police Department to assist in their investigation and support their efforts in any way we can. As the investigation continues, the driver’s access to the Uber platform has been suspended.”

Uber has often faced criticism that its services are unsafe due to supposedly lax background checks on its drivers. But Uber says all of its drivers must submit to a background check similar to the one used by the Philadelphia Parking Authority for cabdrivers. The company says its check goes back seven years — it’s against the law to go back further — and includes criminal and sex offender checks.

But there are horror stories out there from women who say that they went from passengers to victims at the hands of their Uber drivers. Since December 2014, at least three Uber drivers — two in Illinois and one in Massachusetts — have been charged with sexual assault.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

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  • MetalDog

    I thought that the extra $1 on the Uber bill was supposed to prevent this kind of thing.

    • The Real Richard Cranium

      My understanding is that it goes to their insurancr policy

  • Tommy Grover

    So it’s not their policy to have no inside door handles?

    • Jade

      He could’ve had the child lock on. Or you know she was probably fearing for her life and such having just been raped. You’re messed up for implying it’s her fault.

      • Tommy Grover

        I was implying that Uber doesn’t care who their drivers are.

        • Dental_FlossTycoon

          Do cab companies? The really cheap ones?

          • Tommy Grover

            If they are licensed, they have to. Personally, I haven’t heard about any cab driver rapes here in Philly.

  • NateFried

    IF sexual assault is actually higher with UBERs than with regular Taxi companies… I can only imagine it is because taxis take their jobs more seriously since it is generally their main source of income whereas UBERx drivers do it for the spare cash. Sexual assault by a taxi driver would mean an assault charge AND the loss of their primary source of income while for an UBERx driver, it would mean an assault charge and only the loss of “side-money”. If my thoughts are correct, I would have absolutely no idea how UBER could prevent such a phenomenon which makes me wonder about the future of the company.

    • Ken

      Along those same lines, I think it is correct to assume that taxi drivers view their work more as a primary source of income, while a larger percentage of Uber driver’s view it as extra. Also, I would imagine that there are a lot of guys who have other jobs, aren’t very successful with women, and view doing the Uber job as a potential way to get out and meet people. That desire could make a world of difference in how they view the next woman who steps in the car and even cordially interacts with them.

      • NateFried

        totally agreed. I am a BIG advocate for UBER, but this is definitely an unintended problem that may arise. Many UBER drivers I meet talk with me and have specifically said that they enjoy it because its extra cash and its fun talking to people and meeting them. I would say that if this is the case… then, UBER shouldn’t just use background safety checks that are “just” as good as cab companies… they should go well beyond that to avoid drivers of this nature. It might cost more, but it increases protection significantly.

        • Ken

          That many Uber drivers may view this extra job as a way to expand their social interactions might be an inherent problem that cannot be eliminated. Much like owning a bar and preferring that your employees don’t screw around with the clients … yet you want your bartenders to be highly social and interactive. Ok, but then….

          • NateFried

            hmmm…that’s a difficult concern. Either UBER makes it safer, they make drivers more concerned that they won’t get away with it, or we just don’t allow our wives/daughters/gfs to drive alone in an UBERx. Tell them to only use UBERblack who’s drivers are moreso full timers.

          • LG

            Allow?

          • NateFried

            ugh…”strongly suggest” that our wives, daughters, and gfs take normal cabs if going alone.

          • demitallanyway

            Omg, what will those poor women do who don’t have men to allow or strongly suggest things to them?! Will they have to figure it out for themselves? What century is this again?

          • NateFried

            Your assumption that only men can have wives, daughters, or gfs is a little 1950s. Don’t you think?

            Females are the primary target in sexual assault. IF it turns out to be true that UBERx is not as safe as a standard taxi, I hope that anyone who has a loved one who is female cautions them not to UBER alone just as strongly as they might caution them not to walk alone at night in an unsafe environment.

          • demitallanyway

            It was your assumption I was ridiculing, NateFried—that women have to be told what the dangers are they face every day.

          • NateFried

            There is nothing wrong with offering company to a loved one or friend who is female and walking home alone. Safety in numbers. As for a new cab service like UBERx where not everyone may know of the potential dangers (which may or may not actually exist), there is nothing wrong with suggesting to them that it may not be safe to travel alone. Women don’t have to be told of dangers they face every day…but there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking out for the safety of those you love. I certainly home you would do the same.

        • mlr3000

          Uber does background checks that go well beyond what most cab companies do.

          http://blog.uber.com/driverscreening

          • karshe

            I was driver for uber and I quit because of the mistreat and abuses from the passenger’s. Most of the customers are white and if your not white they will give you 1 star and write bad reviews. I am very upset that women gets raped in public transportation. Women safety should be number one priority. It does not matter uber or taxi every women should feel safe using for public transportation.

    • Silky Mitts

      um.. and I suppose they’ll just show up to their “main” job after getting out of prison for sexual assault? Nope. You’re reaching..

      • NateFried

        a lot of cases of rape don’t go punished. If an accusation is made, UBER would probably instantly drop them…but their primary source of income likely won’t even hear about the charges, unless they are made public due to the media picking it up

        • Anonymous

          Umm by go unpunished do you mean the charges are dropped? I don’t see how else the person would not go “punished” or at least this information then be on their criminal record? Now granted even if the person was ultimately found guilty as you say most jobs probably aren’t going to keep a tab on criminal records once someone has been hired or at least not regularly but then is this not the fault of the “main” employer? This is again as the person says above you are not sent to prison and you know, don’t show up for said job.

          • NateFried

            unpunished as in unpunished. Lack of evidence of a crime or charges dropped. Sexual assault cases are not easy and my only point is that I believe someone is more likely to do something bad while on a “side job” than their main job.

  • Matty G

    Why Hasn’t Lieutenant Anthony McFadden nor Captain John Darby from Special Victims Unit requested information from Uber yet? It has been over 40 days and PPD has not even alerted uber to the fact that they may have a dangerous driver, nor have they requested the GPS records of that uber driver? Either SVU is understaffed, or these officers are taking their time. Something needs to change.

    • KEL

      IF Uber is telling the truth about not having been notified, PPD is responsible for allowing a dangerous predator to have unlimited access to more victims over the last 2 months. Really scary.

      • phillysportsfan

        I’m really torn on this. unlike “the court of public opinion,” people do have a presumption of innocence in the eyes of the law. do you really want to give the police carte blanche to get people fired over an accusation? i don’t know that i do.

        • KEL

          Totally agree with you there – but if an Uber rider comes forth with this type of accusation, Uber needs to be notified so they can pull all available data needed to aid in investigating a serious claim like rape.

        • Ken

          An employer (or in Uber’s case, a company who arranges work for independent contractors) sure should know if one of their people went out on a job where a women was in a captive situation and raped. Police go to employers all the time to get evidence as the stated purpose but also to not so subtly warn the employer that they may have a real problem person on their hands and might want to take measures to safeguard customers. The employer might be prohibited from firing the person based on a mere accusation, but steps can be taken to minimize future problems.

  • Irish856

    The issue with Uber is…Most of the drivers do not know each other… they have no supervisors that know them… they have no garage to get to hang out at to get to know each other… Hard to find out who the scum is and weed them out.
    A few cars are owned by a Company and those drivers may know each other but a majority drive their own car and no one has a clue about them.

    • Dental_FlossTycoon

      Um, you realize you don’t randomly hail an Uber like you would a cab, you login from your pgone account, it sends a picture, name and type of car to your phone where you are tracked via Uber’s servers the entire time. No way it would be difficult to find this guy, or corroborate driving around for 2 hours either.

      • Irish856

        Yes… I do know how it works… but it sounds like they have stupid drivers out there that forget that… But as I mentioned, the drivers do not know each other… they do not have a supervisor to report crazy drivers to.
        When we drive down the street and a black car is driving erratically… is it an Uber or just a black car… Hard to tell unless you are in it.

  • Galaxy_Scribe

    I’d feel safer in an uber where I have a record of the driver and a car automatically, as opposed to a cab where I’d have to find the info.

    • J Iley

      Try writing the cab number down and the cab company….. get a receipt…. take a picture.

      • Galaxy_Scribe

        That assumes you aren’t too traumatized to take in those details, or worse, too beaten up.

  • J Iley

    Most cities require a thorough background check to be a cab driver…. meaning they get fingerprinted and run through a police data base. Uber supposedly uses a 3rd party company that can’t guarantee accuracy for its background checks. For instance a third party company may not have access to pending cases; where the police would.

    • mlr3000

      Uber’s background check process is actually quite a bit more comprehensive than that performed by typical taxi companies.

      It goes back further, it screens more databases and it’s less lenient.

      • PeterBelles

        You work for Uber

  • k0diak314

    As an uber driver I find this appalling but why are we only hearing about it now? Usually if there is a purported rape anywhere in the city its on the news the next day….not a month later. If the PPD dropped the ball by not notifying uber than they are failing to protect and serve the populace.

  • k0diak314

    I found this on the channel 10 website – “”The trip in question…concluded with the driver dropping off the rider
    at the address where the Philadelphia Police Department 5th District
    station is located,” said Taylor Bennett, a spokesman for Uber.”

    What rapist drops off his victim at the police station? And its been 40 days right? Why isnt the guy behind bars yet?

    Sounds suspicious if you ask me.

  • Tim

    I have a few issues with some of the comments from people. First, this alleged incident happened over 40 days ago, and the alleged victim reported it the same day. If there was evidence to arrest the Uber driver, I would think, he would have been arrested. PPD didn’t even do something as simple and basic as contact Uber to verify the person was a driver and get his GPS records. It leaves me to believe there is far more to this story than the assumptions some people are making. If it turns out no crime happened, there will be no story exonerating the driver, who now has (at least temporary) lost a source of income.

    Second, this idea that the “problem” with drivers doing wrong is just an Uber thing is nonsense. Uber makes the news because it was not there one day, and next day it is a worldwide company. Uber is under the microscope, while local cab companies may get a 10 second mention on the local news, if that, when there is a problem with a traditional cab driver. I would wager that in every city there is a story about an incident with an Uber driver there are also stories about the local cab companies that no one is talking about.

    Next, the comments that UberX drivers are more likely to do a bad job, or do bad things, because most are part-time, doing it for extra money, and don’t take it seriously. I am one of those part-time UberX drivers. I am a father of 6, an entrepreneur, part-time real estate agent, a local school board member, and active in my community. I personally know other UberX drivers similar to myself. I know people who are teachers, a DOD retiree, a licensed security contractor, a community college professor, a single mom, and others. In my experience, UberX does not attract the worst of society, but very high quality people. In fact, because of the conditions of the contract, the worst of society would would have a very hard time qualifying, for one reason or another.

    Lastly… the background checks. They are exhaustive. They did a more thorough background check on me than when I got my Pennsylvania Real Estate Licence. They even found out I spent time in Texas. Several years ago, I spent about a month in Texas for business, and I had my mail temporarily forwarded while I was there. Somehow that came up in my background check, and they also did a state and local criminal background check on me because of this short time in Texas, on top of the local and state background check in PA. It is not a situation that if you have a car you can just signup online and start driving the next day. It takes a while for them to do their complete background check. There are bad people who don’t have records, but there are also bad people in every job and profession. You just can’t paint an entire group with a broad brush.

    *end rant

    • demitallanyway

      You’re right, can’t paint a group with a broad brush either way. So you can’t guarantee that the groups you name—teachers, a DOD retiree, a licensed security contractor, a community college professor—won’t produce a rapist or any other bad actor. The bottom line is that a stranger is getting into a car with a stranger. There have to be safeguards. The people who started Uber, and are getting wealthy from it, have the responsibility to provide the safeguards. Women don’t fear getting raped by cab company taxi drivers because they don’t get raped by cab company taxi drivers. Your suggestion that they do, but that no one talks about it, is ridiculous.

      • Tim

        I appreciate your response. However, there are no safeguards that will ever produce 100% certainty nothing bad will ever happen. These risks exist with traditional cabs, and existed with traditional cabs before Uber was ever around.

        My riders tell me all the time that Uber is a god send, and they will never use a traditional taxi again. There is a reason for that. Despite the media over-hyping a few rare cases, they believe Uber provides a safer, more reliable service. Moreover, Uber’s review system weeds out both bad drivers and bad riders.

        You (the general you) will never be able to predict when and if a person, with no past history of poor behavior, is going to act out in an inappropriate way… not an Uber driver, a cab driver, teacher, police officer, nurse, doctor, lawyer, or anyone else.

        As an example, there are 360 arrests nationally, every year, of school staff charged with inappropriate sexual contact with students. If we can’t figure out how to successfully predict which teachers will have sex with students, with all the clearances and background checks they go through, there is no way to give you the certainty you are looking for from Uber.

        • demitallanyway

          My reply had to do with your extended defense of Uber drivers as “very high quality people.” If, as you concede, there’s no way to predict anyone’s bad behavior, then that defense is a little weak. It’s buyer beware, as it is in any commercial transaction. When I said Uber’s creators have the responsibility to provide safeguards, I should have said they have the responsibility *IF* they want people to feel comfortable using their service. So much of business depends on trust. I can trust getting into a Yellow Cab, e.g., because I know that the driver paid a lot of money for his medallion; this is his living. I trust his objective is to get me where I’m going so that he can go pick up his next fare.

          • Tim

            Anyone who has regularly used a taxi service, and reads your statement that you “trust getting into a Yellow Cab, e.g., because [you] know that the driver paid a lot of money for his medallion,” knows either you don’t have experience riding in taxis or you are being intentionally obtuse. The general public knows that medallion does not mean a safe driver, nor a safe vehicle. It is suppose to, but it doesn’t. That is fundamentally the reason why Uber has become so popular, so quickly. What you are arguing is that Uber is somehow not doing right by their customers until they find a way eliminate the inherent risk in life that exists everywhere, at all times. And if your solution to the rare incident of an Uber driver acting poorly is forcing them to get a medallion, you are just plain wrong. There is no other way to say it.

      • john

        Women get raped by cab drivers more than you think. I heard about a case where a drunk lady got into a cab and the driver took her over the bridge (into another city) and made her a victim. There is an entire task force designated to regulate the taxis – to make sure they are obeying the law and not hurting people. The task force would not be essential if things like this weren’t happening. but you won’t hear about the rapes because it’s bad for business. It would shed a dark light on the taxis and in turn less fares, less medallions sold, less money made by the city! It’s the same reason that the parking authority set up “uber stings” when uber first got to the east coast. C’mon now…don’t be naive. Uber drivers are bad for taxi business, the people in power, who control the media I might add, will do everything in thier power to hide whatever blemishes belong to the taxi service business and exentuate any wrongs committed by a uber driver.

        • demitallanyway

          You ‘heard about a case’? Also, ‘exentuate any wrongs’? Tell me more.

      • k0diak314

        I know this is a little late but the whole line “Women don’t fear getting raped by cab company taxi drivers because they don’t get raped by cab company taxi drivers” is a crock. A taxi driver in California and his roommate were arrested for raping a woman earlier in march. Go read for yourself….just google “sunnyvale taxi rape”. People can pass all the background checks in the world and still end up committing a crime after the fact…..Just because you have a clean record doesnt mean you wont do something wrong down the line.

        • demitallanyway

          I went and read the story. LOL, I agree, if you call a cab & agree to buy alcohol with your taxi driver & sit drinking with him until you pass out, you might get more action than you bargained for. I do not, however, think this is how most women use cabs.

    • PeterBelles

      Travis loves you

  • Suzie Collins

    I believe when the cab companies do background checks they also do fingerprinting so that if a current driver is arrested they are “pushed” a notification. While Uber has done a better job recently of researching their drivers there is no way to be notified if there are current violations or if one of their drivers, for example, has a DUI over the weekend, they only know of past violations.

    I can’t remember the last time I read about a cab driver attacking a passenger.

    It is upsetting that the police dept seem to have sat on this for 40 days.

  • Chris

    another day and another driver raping customer…its sad…

  • Slug_DC

    Any updates on this story? It seems to have just gone away.

    • Tim

      I know, right?! I’m sure if the Uber driver was eventually charged that Phillymag.com would have been all over it, right? Seriously, it was forty days old when they published this story. I’m sure there is a whole lot to this story that the reporter did not include, because it did not serve his purpose, and is why there is no followup now.