Uber driver charged with raping woman in car in Boston
An Uber driver allegedly raped an intoxicated female passenger in his car in Boston over the weekend and told police, “I know I’m in trouble, I had sex with her,” prosecutors said Monday.
The allegations were disclosed during the arraignment of Ranjan Thapa, 26, in Roxbury Municipal Court. He entered the courtroom handcuffed with his coat pulled over his head, and a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf to a charge of rape. Thapa was held on $10,000 cash bail.
His public defender, Josh Raisler Cohn, said outside court that Thapa is “absolutely asserting his innocence.”
Authorities allege Thapa preyed on a woman who was so incapacitated that she could barely speak to investigators soon after the alleged rape.
She had been visiting a college friend Saturday evening, and the two became separated while they were drinking at a South Boston bar, a Boston police incident report said.
Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Myriam Feliz said an Uber was called for the woman, and a bouncer had to escort her to Thapa’s vehicle when he pulled up shortly after 11:10 p.m.
Then at some point after midnight, Thapa tried to drive around Northeastern University police officers who were conducting a traffic stop on Hemenway Street, authorities said.
Thapa told the officers “his passenger was drunk,” had urinated in his car, and wouldn’t tell him where she wanted to go, the report said. The officers noted the woman was “reclined in the [front] passenger” seat with her pants unzipped and partially pulled down, according to the report.
Feliz said Thapa told police at the scene, “I know I’m in trouble, I had sex with her.” The police report said the woman was “unable to communicate” on Hemenway Street and still couldn’t talk to investigators at a city hospital early Sunday.
Thapa later gave an interview to Boston police investigators, claiming the woman “refused to put her seat belt on” in his car and appeared drunk, the report said.
“He further stated that at some point the victim did put her feet up on the dashboard, pulled down her pants, and urinated on his front passenger seat,” the report said.
Thapa claimed the woman began grabbing him and saying she “wanted to [expletive] him,” the filing said. He told police they had intercourse twice, once on the driver’s seat and again on the front passenger seat, according to the report.
Feliz said Thapa told investigators he accepted the woman’s advances because he hadn’t “been with a woman in several years.” He also told police, “I knew I shouldn’t have done it. I knew I’d get in trouble,” Feliz said.
Raisler Cohn noted during the hearing that Boston police released his client after his interview early Sunday at the South End district station.
He returned to the station several hours later at the request of police, Raisler Cohn said.
Thapa’s cooperation suggests a “person who’s innocent of this crime,” his lawyer said. “He cooperated fully with the police investigation.”
Raisler Cohn said his client insists he had a “totally consensual encounter” with the woman.
The police report said Thapa was initially released because “detectives were unable to speak with the victim.” They called Thapa back to the station early Sunday afternoon after the woman told investigators during their second visit to the hospital that she had “no memory of what happened to her,” never ordered an Uber Saturday night, and “had no idea how she got in the car,” the report said.
In a brief statement, Uber said the company is cooperating with law enforcement.
“What police describe is deeply troubling,” the statement said. “The driver has been removed from the app, and we stand ready to assist the Boston Police Department with their investigation.”
A man who identified himself as Thapa’s brother-in-law declined to discuss the case before the hearing started.
“He’s a decent guy, regular guy,” the man said. “A simple guy.”
Thapa is due back in court on April 17.