Uber driver is accused in rape, kidnapping of customer
A Boston man working as an Uber driver is facing charges that he raped and kidnapped a young woman who had summoned the ride-sharing service earlier this month, authorities said.
Alejandro Done, 46, was held without bail at his arraignment in Cambridge District Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, assault to rape, kidnapping, and two counts of assault and battery, according to a statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office.
Done allegedly picked up the woman on Tremont Street in Boston at around 7:30 p.m., on Dec. 6. She had been out with friends and summoned an Uber driver to pick her up from the residence and take her to her home in Cambridge, according to investigators.
Through Uber, a smartphone application, customers can contact drivers and pay them directly.
When the woman was in the car, Done allegedly told her she would need to pay with cash and drove her to an ATM. After she got back into the car, he allegedly drove to a secluded area, Ryan’s office said.
Done then allegedly stopped and jumped into the back seat and struck the woman, the office said. He allegedly strangled her, locked the car doors to keep her from escaping, and covered her mouth so she could not scream, prosecutors said in the statement.
Prosecutors allege that Done sexually assaulted the woman during the struggle. The woman reported the alleged assault to Cambridge police.
Police identified Done as the driver of the car through Uber’s records, and the woman confirmed his identity, prosecutors said.
Kaitlin Durkosh, an Uber spokeswoman, called the incident a “despicable crime” and said company representatives will work with police to help with the investigation.
On Wednesday night, another spokesman for the company confirmed that Done worked for Uber and had passed a background check.
Ryan, in her statement Wednesday, condemned Done, saying he took advantage of the woman and “exploited her vulnerability once he had her in his car.”
This is the fourth time a customer reported being assaulted or inappropriately touched by a ride-share driver in the area this month. Early Sunday, three women reported indecent assaults within hours in Boston after summoning a ride-share service. At least two of the victims had used Uber, Boston police said.
Meghan Joyce, Uber’s Boston general manager, on Wednesday addressed a community alert that police issued after Sunday’s attacks.
In an e-mail, she said, “I think the disturbing part of that community alert is the continued issue and problem of illegal vehicles for hire on the streets of Boston. . . . The level of accountability and transparency that Uber’s technological innovations have brought to the transportation industry are unprecedented, but there have been very disturbing and persistent issues here in the city of Boston, and we’re very excited over the coming months to work with both the city of Boston and the state of Mass. to do whatever we can do to ensure that these illegal vehicles for hire are a thing of the past.”
Jeremy Warnick, the director of communication for the Cambridge police, said though he is not sure the incident at hand is related, police are investigating a possible link.