Woman Sexually Assaulted Early Sat. Morning after getting into a car “she mistook as an Uber car”

via google maps

From MPD:

“The Metropolitan Police Department seeks the public’s assistance in locating and identifying a suspect in connection with a sexual assault that occurred in the 3500 block of Macomb Street, Northwest.

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, between 3:30 am and 4:00 am, an adult female entered a four door silver sedan, which she mistook as an Uber car. Upon entering the vehicle, the driver produced a knife and sexually assaulted the complainant. The complainant was able to escape without further injury.

The suspect is described as Middle Eastern male, early thirties, with black curly hair.

Anyone who has information regarding this case should call police at 202-727-9099.”

52 Comment

  • This seems to be a pretty major loophole for Uber, one I’m not sure they could plug.
    Assumption: [you] are a devious piece of shit intent on harming others, also an Uber driver
    1. Field an Uber request for a female (I assume Uber passes on the name/rating of the requestor)
    2. Call your piece of shit buddy, notifying the of the pickup location
    3. ….
    4. Uber can’t realistically track this without subpoenaing phone records, etc. If the uber driver uses a burner, then it seems close to impossible to track down

    • Uber actually has several safeguards for this already, but the rider has to actually use them. When you order an Uber, the app gives you a photo of the driver, tells you the kind of car, and gives you the license plate number. Ideally, as a rider, you should double check these each time to make sure you’re getting into the right car. I’m not trying to blame this victim for her assault — obviously it’s the attacker who’s to blame here — but this is not a loophole in Uber’s system.

      • palisades

        Agreed. There’s only so much a company can do. If this person failed to double check the make/model of the car and the license plate, then that’s on her. It’s obviously horrible what happened to her, and no one should ever have to go through it, but blaming Uber is lazy.

      • I wish that Uber also told riders the color of the car and state of the license plate. I always read the plate before I get into the car, but it would save me time if they gave more info (I could skip over cars of a different color or from a different state).

        • Color would be helpful. I don’t know a lot about cars, so make/model is kind of lost on me. I have to wait until it’s close enough that I can see the hood ornament to ID the manufacturer.

        • Yeah, seems like having that additional information couldn’t hurt and would be helpful to the rider.

          • I agree…I look at the license plate also, but sometimes the car photo isn’t on the uber app — and sometimes the license plate is hard to read if it is very late (but I always check).

          • justinbc

            Better yet just have the driver upload a photo of their car. How hard could that be to implement?

        • Yes! Nearly everyone I know wants this feature to be added.

        • At least in the DC area this is pretty easy because DC, MD and VA number their license plates very differently, I always know which state to look for when I order an uber because I learned the patterns.

    • One too many people.

      “All” it would take is for an authorized Uber driver to be running the app and see the location of a request. The driver doesn’t accept the fare but drives to the location anyway. Presumably, the perpetrator would turn off the app before heading to the location.

      That said, this really isn’t unique to Uber. There is a very thin line separating all of us from sociopaths and there is little one can do to prevent such things.

      • “There is a very thin line separating all of us from sociopaths” — Seriously??

        • Yes. If a sociopath wanted to hurt you, there’s relatively little that would stop them. I don’t see why you see this as remotely controversial.

        • I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I think that a person’s morality can slip after spending multiple hours a day driving around here. Just look at all the power commuters with serious road rage. When I lived in the suburbs and had to drive a lot I was a lot less civil to other people, and I noticed my VA neighbors were ruder than people in DC who presumably drove less. It’s hard not to veer into sociopath territory when you’re sitting in traffic all the time.

      • Are you saying this is what happened, or are you just voicing random speculation?

        • Oh come on, if anyone actually knew what happened they wouldn’t be posting that here.

          • Thank you. Again to my rescue.

            I wasn’t voicing speculation. I was just saying that this type of thing is remarkably easy if you think it through. It doesn’t require some grand conspiracy and it cannot be easily prevented.

            We rely on social mores and a general sense of being a decent human being for safety.

  • Hence don’t knock the value of the pink mustache on lyft cars.

  • Every time I see news like this I think there’s a market for an uber/lyft type company with only women drivers.

    • There is absolutely a market. Now someone just had to get it going.

      • This comes up from time to time, and all the men of Popville/armchair lawyers (usually one in the same) get up in arms about discrimination against men (lol)

        • i think it’s because of equal opportunity employment laws.

          • I believe if pressed such a service would pass intermediate scrutiny. Sorry guys, but looking at just DC you can easily see women are more heavily affected by assaults involving always male cabbies. You also have similar opportunities as cab drivers or uber/lyft.

          • I’d like to know what an actual lawyer has to say about that. For instance, in most healthcare settings, you can request to be treated by someone of your preferred gender. How is this any different?

          • from what i’ve read, there’s a difference between being able to request someone of a certain gender and only hiring one gender exclusively. for example, if uber had a “i want a female driver only” option that should be legal, but if a company exclusively hired women as drivers, that might run into legal issues. but yes, an actual lawyer’s opinion would be great.

          • An actual attorney did respond….

            There is a difference, and I only know of 1 in India which is doing well as women only for drivers and fares. Much bigger place though.

            Adding a request female driver option seems nice, but how do you know if the customer is a woman? I certainly don’t think a female only driver service would work in a small town with less options, but there are 3 here already, so men aren’t in fact losing any meaningful opportunity to drive.

          • justinbc

            @Anon Spock, you’re acting as if sensibility has any bearing over frivolous lawsuits. A bounty of comparable options won’t keep that hypothetical company out of court if one angry guy can help it.

    • And who would protect the women drivers from potentially dangerous fares? There’s a reason you don’t see too many female cab/uber drivers.

      • I envisioned a female only service both ways or maybe only female fares after x time of day.

      • The female Uber drivers I’ve had seemed to love the job. At least as a driver you’re in control of the vehicle. Unless someone pulls a gun on you you’re probably pretty safe.

        • Maybe it’s safer because of the lack of cash, but driving a cab has generally been one of the more dangerous jobs in the US.

        • Agree with jcm, it’s a lot safer than driving a taxi because there’s no cash. There’s also the same protection that passengers have – the app has information about the identify of the passenger.
          Driving a traditional taxi is a pretty dangerous job, since they have so much cash on them.

      • I actually see a lot of female Uber drivers. Sure, there are more male drivers, but I think that’s because men generally enjoy driving more.
        The reason the traditional cab industry has almost no female drivers is because it’s incredibly macho and sexist. It’s a widely held belief among regular cabbies that women cannot and should not drive.

    • This exists but I’ve never tried the app to see if there are any in DC: http://shetaxis.com/

    • Totally anecdotal and not a counterargument, but the scariest cab driver I ever had was a woman. threatened to kill a pair of pedestrians that jaywalked in front of her, told me, with real rage in her voice, that Jesus hated people that don’t tip well, and when we pulled up in front of the address I gave her (which was a block away from my real house), asked me if I actually lived there.

  • This is unfortunate, but I’ve had 2 people on 2 separate occasions try to open my car door after I had just pulled up to park, and I’ve never been an Uber driver. Uber customers need to look for the “U” and know what make/model their driver’s car is.

  • See? In my future absolute dictatorship (all drugs legalized, free healthcare and advanced education for all) this man – if caught – would be executed if found guilty of sexual assault, and the world would be less one more evil, antisocial person.

    • I’ll vote for you. But please tweak the execution part of your policy. I’m anti death penalty. But in favor of forced labor for convicts!

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