Continuing the string of safety incidents surrounding Uber, a driver was arrested in Los Angeles Monday for allegedly kidnapping a drunk female passenger after she woke up in a motel room and found her shirtless driver.
A LAPD spokesperson tells ABC7 that the 26-year-old victim was drinking Sunday night and "had likely called the Uber ride-share service" for a ride home. She evidently passed out, so the driver "took advantage of the situation, and drove her to a cheap motel."
Officers went to the Panorama Motel after the woman pointed it out. Police said the suspect was the only white male tenant to have checked in. Encino resident Frederick Dencer, 32, was still in the room the woman had come from. Police said Dencer gave conflicting information during an interview with him.
Surveillance video showed Dencer carrying the woman into the room, contrary to his descriptions of the night's events, police said.
Police believe the woman's last stop Sunday night was at the Greystone Manor nightclub in West Hollywood. Police believe Dencer, an Uber driver, was hanging out at the club after another fare and may have been solicited by a nightclub worker to take the drunk victim home, according to the LAPD.
Police state that "no sexual assault occurred," even though "there was some fondling through her clothes." When the victim expressed she wanted to leave the motel after waking up, he did not stop her.
This is Uber's first major incident since the service instituted a $1 "Safe Rides Fee," which the company claims "supports the increased costs associated with our continued efforts to ensure the safest platform for Uber riders and drivers."
Prior to the fee, Uber was plagued with concerns over its safety, including a scathing piece by The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi, in which she detailed an encounter with a driver who photographed her jogging—and brought up numerous other incidents.
In a statement to CBS Los Angeles, Uber dodged taking any responsibility, saying "The facts are unknown at this stage and it's certainly unclear that this is an Uber-related incident, and the driver in question was not logged in, connected to or operating on the platform at the time. We have reached out to authorities and will work with them to help uncover the facts."
The driver was booked for "kidnap for the purpose of sexual assault" and is being held on $1 million bail.