Uber driver ordered held on $10,000 bail after charged in rape of woman in Dorchester
A woman’s birthday celebration at a Boston karaoke bar became a nightmare early Tuesday when an Uber driver picked her up outside the establishment and then allegedly raped her in Dorchester, officials said.
According to a police report, the woman told investigators she was “highly intoxicated” during the alleged attack and that the suspect, Michael J. Squadrito, 40, of Everett, said afterward, “I finished, do you want me to pull your pants up for you?”
The report was filed in Dorchester Municipal Court, where Squadrito was arraigned on a rape charge. He was held on $10,000 bail and remained out of public view during the hearing. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Boston police Commissioner William Gross said after the hearing that he thought the bail was too low.
“What message are we sending to victims?” Gross said. “It should be $100,000.”
Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Darcy Currey said in court that Squadrito was arrested Tuesday in Chelsea, and that he claimed the sexual encounter was consensual.
Squadrito said the woman requested intercourse and that footage from a camera in his car would corroborate his account, Currey said. However, detectives reviewed the camera’s memory card and couldn’t locate any footage of the incident, according to Currey.
The police report stated the woman “is sure she did not consent to the suspect’s actions” inside the car.
In addition, the report said, the woman sought treatment early Tuesday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and her “hands were shaking and lips were pursed when divulging” details of the incident. “The officer observed that [the] victim’s eyes were red and puffy and had tears welled up in them as she spoke. The victim stated repeatedly that she wanted to wash her mouth out and do whatever necessary to get the suspect ‘out of her body’ immediately.”
Squadrito’s court-appointed lawyer, Nancy Hurley, asked that her client be released on personal recognizance or held on $500 bail. She noted that Squadrito agreed to meet with police and didn’t “try to do anything except get to the bottom of this.”
Hurley said there’s “no indication” her client, who has an 11th grade education and lives with his parents and siblings, is a danger to the community.
He does, however, have a prior record that includes a 2015 arrest in Chelsea for soliciting sex for a fee, records show. That charge was dropped when a “necessary witness” failed to appear for trial, according to Suffolk District Attorney John Pappas’s office.
Uber said its drivers in Massachusetts are currently screened every six months, and that a dismissal of a case wouldn’t preclude a driver from using the service under state law.
Squadrito was also arrested on a drug charge in 2016 in Michigan and resolved that case by paying a $300 fine, Hurley said. In addition, two “minor” drug cases from about 20 years ago resulted in sentences of probation in Massachusetts, according to Hurley.
In a statement, Uber said the case “is deeply disturbing and our thoughts are with the rider during this difficult time. The driver’s access to the app has been removed and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.”
The woman’s night began Monday at the Wild Rover bar, where she was celebrating her birthday, the report said. She called an Uber sometime after midnight, and Squadrito, described as heavyset with a long beard and shaggy hair, arrived to pick up her up, records show.
She said she recalled Squadrito circling the Shawmut MBTA station before pulling over on a one -way street and getting into the back seat with her.
Squadrito allegedly raped the woman before waking her up out of an “unconscious state” and offering to pull her pants up, the report said. She said no and also declined his offer to drive her home, because she wanted to “get away from the suspect as soon as possible,” records show.
An officer noted that the woman had what “appeared to be a bite mark on the right side of her neck,” the filing said.
Squadrito’s next court date is scheduled for Nov. 21.
Last year, the Globe reported that more than 8,000 drivers for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft had been pulled off Massachusetts roads after failing a new state background check, for infractions ranging from license suspensions to violent crimes and sexual offenses.
Uber has said previously that drivers can’t join the service if they have had a felony conviction in the past seven years or a major driving violation in the past three years.
Gross, the police commissioner, said Wednesday that ride share companies should provide more information to authorities regarding their processes for screening drivers.
“How are they really doing the background checks?” he said. “No more lip service; put the money where your mouth is.” Asked if someone with Squadrito’s prior record should be driving a ride share, Gross said, “No ... adamant no.”
Prior arrests of ride-share drivers in Massachusetts have included an Uber driver charged in 2016 with raping a 16-year-old passenger in Everett. Another Uber driver was charged with raping a Cambridge woman two years earlier, and in March of this year, a third driver was charged with sexually assaulting an incapacitated passenger in Boston.
Globe Correspondent John Hilliard and Adam Vaccaro and Dan Adams of the Globe Staff contributed.