Uber and a former driver for the ride-hailing company are being sued by a passenger who alleges the driver took her unconscious to a North Hollywood motel in 2017 and raped her.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed against Uber Technologies Inc. and Alaric Spence, alleging sexual battery, false imprisonment, battery, civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional.
“Plaintiff joins … hundreds of other female victims who had been sexually assaulted by Uber drivers — possibly thousands — around the world,” the suit alleges.
The suit was filed Friday and seeks unspecified damages and various reforms within Uber, including the implementation of a policy requiring cameras inside Uber vehicles and the placement of a “panic button” on an Uber app alerting the company and police of any unlawful conduct by its drivers.
Uber spokesman Andrew Hasbun released a statement regarding the complaint that reads, in part: “What the rider reported to police is horrifying and has no place anywhere in our society. Our hearts are with the victim.”
Spence lost his Uber driving privileges in June 2017 when the alleged crime was reported and the company worked closely with police, Hasbun said. He also noted that Uber recently strengthened its safety approach with new features, including an emergency button, driver screening improvements and the addition of the former Secretary of Homeland Security to head up Uber’s Safety Advisory Board.
Spence, 47, has pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court to one felony count each of kidnapping to commit rape, rape of an unconscious person and rape by use of drugs, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He is awaiting a preliminary hearing and his next court hearing is June 8.
Prosecutors allege that Spence picked up the woman in downtown Los Angeles, June 23, drove her to the motel and carried her from his car into the room, where he raped her. The woman was intoxicated and unconscious at the time of the alleged attack, according to Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller.
Los Angeles police said the woman passed out in the back of Spence’s car while en route to Hollywood about 3 a.m. She woke up alone, not knowing where she was or how she got there, and called police.
According to the lawsuit, Doe attended a work function in downtown Los Angeles the previous day and summoned an Uber driver to take her to her boyfriend’s West Hollywood home because she had consumed several alcoholic drinks.
The plaintiff alleges that Spence drove her toward her destination and administered a date-rape drug or something similar to render her unconscious. Once they reached the woman’s destination, the driver then continued to the Ritz Motel in North Hollywood, where he carried the still- unconscious woman into a room and raped her, according to the lawsuit.
Spence left the woman and she awoke later dazed and confused in a strange room wearing only a shirt, the suit states.
“Plaintiff realized that she had been sexually assaulted when she found two used condoms in the motel room,” the complaint alleges.
Doe found out that Spence was her alleged assailant by checking the room registration, the suit says.
Spence was arrested shortly after the attack. He has prior drug- related convictions and had been an Uber driver for six months, according to police.