Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
Ratchet Meter: 7
An Uber driver was arrested yesterday for allegedly kidnapping a Los Angeles woman after she woke up in a motel room with no recollection of how she got there following a night of drinking.
ABC Los Angeles reports that the 26-year-old woman called 911 on June 2nd after waking up in a Panorama City motel room along with an unfamiliar shirtless man. Police told ABC Los Angeles that the woman had gone out drinking in West Los Angeles the night before, presumably calling Uber to arrange a safe ride home.
When officers arrived at the Panorama Motel, they found 32-year-old Frederick Dencer of Encino. Though the LAPD says surveillance footage shows Dencer carrying the woman into the room, he provided police with a conflicting account the night's happenings:
Police believe the woman's last stop the Sunday night before 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 said the woman's cellphone was dead so it was not immediately determined if she had called for an Uber ride. Since the nightclub worker solicited the ride for the woman, it was not an official Uber assignment, police said. If it had been an official Uber assignment, Dencer would have received the victim's home address with the fare, but the victim was too drunk to tell him, police said.
LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon told ABC Los Angeles that he believed Dencer "took advantage of the situation." Furthermore, though police maintained that no sexual assault occurred, they noted that there was some "fondling through [the woman's] clothes."
Dencer was charged with kidnap for the purpose of sexual assault and is being detained on $1 million bail.
UPDATE: In the wake of Dencer's arrest, Uber spokesperson Eva Behrend issued a statement on the matter: Uber became aware this afternoon of a serious incident in Los Angeles. The facts are unknown at this stage and it's certainly unclear that this is an Uber-related incident, as 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. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver's account following any serious allegations, which we have done. Nothing is more important to Uber than the safety of our riders.