The Daily Illini

UIPD investigates sexual assault against student by Uber driver

By Therese Pokorney and Samantha Boyle

A University student was using Uber’s ride-share services when the driver pulled over in a parking lot and sexually assaulted the student around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to a Campus Safety Notice sent out Thursday.

The University Police Department is currently working with Uber in an investigation about this report, said Patrick Wade, spokesman for the UIPD.

Since the reported assault, the driver has been taken off of the ride-share service, but his name has not been released.

According to the report, the driver was described as a black male in his 20s with a short, full beard and driving a gray Ford Focus with license plate BA6 2741.

The name of the driver will not be released until the investigation is completed, Wade said.

“If the suspect knows we’re looking for them, they could take off and start making preparations,” he said.

Wade said he is unsure how long the investigation will take and there’s a lot of different outcomes that could happen.

“You see incidents like this pop up in the country, but I don’t recall one on campus,” Wade said. “But it’s something that’s really concerning.”

Kayla Whaling, Uber spokeswoman, said the company has added some safety features over the last year, including the in-app emergency button.

“Riders can connect directly with 911 through the app with this feature, which shows real-time location — both on a map and as an address,” the Uber website said. “In select cities, the rider’s location and trip details will be automatically sent to the 911 dispatcher.”

Uber works with seven national partners such as Raliance, the National Network to End Domestic Violence and NO MORE, to support a $5 million campaign against sexual assault and domestic violence.

“This is deeply upsetting,” Whaling said. “The driver’s access to the app has been removed and we are working closely with police to support their investigation.”

According to the website, Uber also screens drivers’ criminal and driving history before allowing them to drive. This includes local, state and national databases, including the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender website.

This is a developing story. Please follow The Daily Illini for more updates. 

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