Notoriously liberal ride-sharing company, Uber, is struggling with yet another sexual assault controversy. This past Sunday, a man impersonating an Uber driver lured a Washington DC woman into his car, and sexually assaulted her.
Fake Uber driver, Honcine Jourhdaly has been charged with sexual assault and kidnapping.
A woman, and one of her male friend, saw an Uber sticker in the window of a Honda Civic, and had flagged the vehicle down like a taxi (not with the phone app).
They asked the driver to take them back to American University’s campus, in Washington DC. The driver told the woman to get in the front passenger seat. When they got to the requested destination, he ordered the male passenger to get out of the vehicle, and then sped off with the woman still inside.
Jourhdaly then drove to another area of the University campus and sexually assaulted the woman between 3:20AM and 3:50AM on Sunday.
Jourhdaly was formerly an Uber driver, but had stopped working for the ride-sharing service in 2015, when he was removed as a driver. An Uber spokeswoman would not reveal the reason behind his removal.
Keep in mind, real Uber drivers would not pick up their rides who flag them down like usual taxi cabs. The only way an Uber driver is supposed to pick up a passenger is when they have been requested to do so through the designated app.
It is also important to be aware that drivers like Jourhaldy who have quit or had been fired from Uber may keep their identifying stickers, and unfortunately use them to harm unsuspecting passengers like the woman in this incident.
Even the drivers who pass the Uber’s background checks may not be safe to ride with, as per some people’s opinion. Two of such women have filed a complaint, seeking class-action status, against the company, claiming that they were assaulted by their drivers and that the Uber has misrepresented how safe their service is.
“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired. Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers — especially women. This is no longer an issue of “rogue” drivers who act unlawfully,” the complaint reads. When the Massachusetts state government reviewed more than 70,000 Uber or Lyft drivers with more stringent background checks, 8,000 of them were banned. 51 of those were sex offenders, and hundreds more had been accused of incidents related to “sex, abuse and exploitation.”
Uber has strongly opposed the adoption of more strict and stringent screenings, such as fingerprint background checks. Former CEO Travis Kalanick, who is still on the board of directors, had said that the company does not want people who have been unfairly caught up in any of the criminal justice system to be unable to work.