Police charged an Uber driver Wednesday with raping an unconscious teen girl in Laguna Beach, California. Samer Alaaeldin Mahran, 23, was charged with four felony counts of sexual assault and faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in state prison.
This incident is far from isolated. Dozens of alleged sexual assaults by drivers for the ride-hailing service have been reported over the past year. Another Uber driver was charged with raping a minor in Massachusetts in August and a woman in Palo Alto, California, claims to have been groped and stalked by her Uber driver last week.
Police said the assault in Laguna Beach took place early Saturday morning after a family member for the 17-year-old girl, whose name isn't being released, hailed an Uber to get her home. Mahran picked her up but did not drive to her destination, according to police.
When the girl's family members grew worried, they used Uber's in-app tracking feature to locate the vehicle. They reportedly found Mahran sexually assaulting the girl in the backseat of his car. The girl was intoxicated and unconscious, police said. Mahran reportedly fled the scene and police later arrested him at his apartment in Huntington Beach, California.
"We're devastated by what this family has gone through and our hearts are with them," an Uber spokeswoman said in an email. "We'll continue working with police to support the investigation and proceedings. The individual has been permanently barred from the app."
A handful of states, including California and Texas, have launched investigations into the ride-hailing service, claiming it routinely fails to adequately screen drivers and has hired drivers with criminal histories. Uber says it puts all potential US drivers through commercial background checks and rejects anyone who has a history of violent crimes, sexual offenses, gun-related violations or resisting arrest. Unlike most taxi companies, however, Uber doesn't require fingerprint background checks.
Mahran reportedly passed Uber's background checks. He was released from jail on Wednesday on a $100,000 bond and is scheduled for an arraignment in early December.