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Uber faces new allegations of driver sexual assault in Boston

Limousine At Night

Montse PB/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

It has been 0 days since the last Uber scandal.

In the latest headache for a company already facing several of them, a Boston-area  Uber driver will face rape charges after allegedly assaulting a young female passenger on the night of Dec. 6.

The driver, Alejandro Done, was identified through the app, which matches riders with nearby available drivers in its database. Done, 46, is currently being held without bail. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, rape, assault to rape, and assault and battery. 

After picking up his passenger on Boston’s Tremont Street, Done allegedly insisted that she needed to take out cash from an ATM to pay him. (Part of Uber’s appeal is that it is a no-cash, purely digital-transaction service.) Following the stop at the ATM, Done allegedly took her to a remote location where he assaulted her in the back seat. The woman later reported the assault to the Cambridge police. 

According to the Boston Globe, this is the fourth incident of its kind in the Boston area this month alone. On Dec. 14, three women, at least two of whom were using Uber, reported “indecent assaults” after summoning rides.

Uber issued a statement about safety on its company blog on Thursday that emphasized its “thorough, multi-layered” background checks and driver-ratings system, stressing that these safety precautions were unique to its platform. 

Yet Uber’s much-touted background checks have faced serious criticism in recent months. The New York Times reported that the company is trying to stop state legislation that would require ridesharing services to conduct background checks on par with those to which taxi drivers submit.

While Uber isn’t alone in its opposition to such laws, “supporters of stronger background checks say Uber has been by far the most aggressive.” 

Uber often lauds its ridesharing platform as a safe alternative to traditional taxi services, but its safety record undermines its promises. With so many blemishes on its image, it remains to be seen whether Uber can successfully eliminate the risk inherent in getting a ride from a stranger—or whether it will even try.

H/T Boston Globe | Photo via Montse PB/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

Taylor Hatmaker

Taylor Hatmaker

Taylor Hatmaker has reported on the tech industry for nearly a decade, covering privacy and government. Most recently, she was the Debug editor of the Daily Dot. Prior to that, she was a staff writer and deputy editor at ReadWrite, a tech and business reporter for Yahoo News, and the senior editor of Tecca. Her editorial interests include censorship, digital activism, LGBTQ issues, and futurist consumer tech.