Metro

Ex-Uber driver convicted of assault on female passenger

A former Uber driver was convicted in a Boston court Friday of physically assaulting a 21-year-old woman while she was a passenger in his vehicle last year, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.

The driver, Abderrahim Dakiri, was arrested by Boston police in February 2015 on a charge of indecent assault and battery after the woman alleged that he had touched her indecently several times.

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During a trial last week in Boston Municipal Court, Judge Michael Coyne found Dakiri guilty of a lesser charge, assault and battery, according to Conley’s office.

Coyne sentenced Dakiri to two years’ probation and ordered him to stay away from the victim, her workplace, and the campuses of her Boston-area school, prosecutors said.

The woman testified during the trial but did not give a victim impact statement, prosecutors said. Authorities said she was assaulted after Dakiri dropped her three friends off.

Dakiri’s defense lawyer, Michael A. Cioffi of East Boston, declined to comment Monday.

In a statement, Uber said: “This incident was unacceptable. We immediately removed the driver from the Uber platform when we learned of it. Our thoughts are with the victim of this crime and our heart goes out to her.”

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The woman is one of two women, known in court records as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, who are suing Uber in US District Court in San Francisco, alleging the company could have prevented attacks with better hiring practices.

The second woman alleges she was raped by an Uber driver in South Carolina in August 2015.

Douglas P. Wigdor, the New York-based lawyer for both women, said the guilty verdict on a lesser charge in the Boston case will not affect  the federal lawsuit against Uber.

“The criminal trial doesn’t matter at all’’ in terms of the lawsuit, Wigdor said. “Whether she was assaulted sexually or otherwise assaulted — the fact of the matter is that we believe Uber could have prevented this assault from happening.”

Uber has asked a judge to throw out the women’s lawsuit, saying it “fails to plead a viable claim for negligent hiring or retention, as Uber neither knew nor failed to discover anything about Dakiri or [the South Carolina suspect] that rendered either unfit for the services he provided.”

The company, which severed ties with Dakiri after his arrest, said in court papers that he was an independent contractor and not an Uber employee at the time of the Boston assault.

John R. Ellement
can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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