Uber driver arraigned on rape charges; DA urges precautions as cases pile up
A driver for the Uber car service has been arraigned on several charges in connection with the sexual assault of a Cambridge resident, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas said today.
Alejandro Done, 46, of Boston, was arraigned on charges of rape, assault to rape, kidnapping and two counts of assault and battery after being accused of attacking a customer early this month.
“We allege that this defendant picked up a young woman, presenting himself as the driver for a ride-sharing service and then drove her to a secluded location where he beat and sexually assaulted her,” Ryan said. “This alleged predator took advantage of a young woman who trusted that he was who he portrayed himself to be and exploited her vulnerability once he had her in his car.”
Cambridge Police continue to investigate, Haas said, but authorities say that at about 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 the defendant went to Tremont Street in Boston, where a young woman was waiting for her Uber ride after spending time with friends. Done drove to an unrequested location and jumped in the back seat with her, locking the doors and hitting and strangling her, as well as covering her mouth so she could not scream as he sexually assaulted her, police said.
It was not clear where the attempted sexual assault took place, said Jeremy Warnick, director of communications and media relations for Cambridge police. The victim’s complaint was made to Cambridge police.
Police said they identified the defendant as the driver of the car through Uber records, and the victim identified Done as the person who assaulted her.
Uber has cooperated with the investigation, authorities said. They did not say specifically that Done was driving under contract at the time of the crime. During the ride he told the victim that he needed to be paid in cash, which is not part of the Uber model.
“This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery,” said Kaitlin Durkosh, an Uber spokeswoman, in an emailed statement. “Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation.”
Cambridge District Court Judge Roanne Sragow ordered the defendant held pending a 9 a.m. Dec. 24 dangerousness hearing.
“Every day people are engaging car services for their transportation needs, and placing their trust in them for their personal safety and security,” Ryan said. “While these services are a convenience, and often a necessity of modern urban living, we urge everyone to take precautions to ensure they are as safe as possible. Confirm that the car you are getting into is the particular one you have ordered. Be cautious if the driver is asking you to do something that you understand to be against company policy, as when they request you pay by cash when you understand that the company receives payment by credit card. There are some simple steps that you can take to reduce your exposure to harm from people intent on using these worthwhile services to take advantage of victims.”
This post took significant amounts of material from a press release. It was updated Dec. 18, 2014, with a statement from an Uber spokeswoman.