An Uber driver in Pittsburgh has been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment after he tried to lock two feminine passengers in his automotive and instructed them, “You’re not going anywhere,” the police stated.
The ladies instructed the police that round 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, the driving force picked them up, remarked on their appears to be like, parked the automotive at an intersection and made the threatening remark, in line with Chris Togneri, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh Police Department. When the driving force tried to lock the doorways, the ladies jumped out of the again seat and ran away from the automotive shouting for assist, Mr. Togneri stated.
The authorities discovered the Uber driver, Richard Lomotey, 36, by way of his Uber app identification and picture. Mr. Lomotey, who can be an assistant professor of data sciences and know-how at Penn State Beaver, a commonwealth campus of the state college in Monaca, Pa., was arrested and charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of harassment and two counts of false imprisonment.
The arrest was a brand new blow to Uber, which has struggled with allegations of sexual misconduct by drivers and is making an attempt to get well from a disappointing preliminary public providing final week.
“What’s been described is unacceptable,” Jodi Kawada Page, an Uber spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail. “The driver’s access to the app has been removed and we stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement to support their investigation.”
Dr. Lomotey has been placed on go away on the Penn State Beaver campus whereas the college gathers extra data, stated Rachel A. Pell, Penn State’s affiliate vp for information and media relations.
He “will not be in the classroom,” Ms. Pell stated. “This is a criminal matter and we cannot comment further.”
No bail was assigned to Dr. Lomotey and he has been launched from jail. He is anticipated to seem in courtroom once more on May 23. Attempts to achieve him on Monday had been unsuccessful, and it was unclear if he had retained a lawyer. The two ladies who reported the incident to the police haven’t been publicly recognized.
Uber has teamed up with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a nonprofit group, to review 212 instances of sexual misconduct that occurred during rides in 2017. The organization has also helped Uber take steps toward creating a sexual assault transparency report ahead of its I.P.O. Uber has promised to release the report this year.
Uber has several systems in place to protect passengers and drivers. They include a screening process that must be completed before drivers can use the Uber app, which includes a driving and criminal history background check that is carried out by a third party. A team of former law enforcement professionals are on call to work with the police 24 hours a day and an emergency button provides an option for riders and drivers to connect directly to 911 through the app. These systems have not necessarily thwarted the rash of passengers’ reports of assaults and misconduct by drivers.
Uber and other ride-sharing companies have also faced the problem of people, mostly men, posing as drivers to carry out kidnappings, sexual assaults and robberies, largely against young women.
In March, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old college student in South Carolina, was stabbed to death after she got into a car that she thought was her Uber ride. A week after Ms. Josephson was killed, three women who said they were raped by men posing as Uber drivers filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that it knew fake drivers were targeting women but did not warn its customers.
After Ms. Josephson’s death, Uber renewed a campaign urging passengers to check a car’s license plate to make sure it matches the one on their app and to ask each driver what his or her name is when getting in a car to confirm it’s the driver called from the passenger’s account.