Women were picked up from Toronto nightclub
Toronto Sun May 20, 2015 Jenny Yuen
A Mississauga man driving an Uber private car has been accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger over the weekend.
York Regional Police said a driver picked up three women after midnight Sunday at a Toronto nightclub and transported them to their homes in York Region.
When it came time to drop off the final passenger in Vaughan around 3 a.m., the woman was advised she had to pay in cash or by other means, police said.
“It was alluded to, but there wasn’t any mention of a specific sexual act,” Const. Andy Pattenden alleged Wednesday. “It was enough to cause her to be concerned.”
When the victim felt uncomfortable and asked the driver to stop the car and let her out, the driver also got out of the vehicle, according to investigators. The woman was then sexually assaulted, police said.
Osamah Al-Mandalawi, 25, faces one count of sexual assault. He is scheduled to appear in Newmarket court on June 4.
Pattenden said police are not “putting out an opinion” whether licensed cabs or private cars are safer.
“We’ve had cases in the past where we’ve had sexual assaults from cab drivers, bus drivers,” he said. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time, at least in Vaughan, that there’s been a report of this happening with an Uber driver. Be aware of your surroundings, travel in groups, these people did the right thing. Definitely come forward and contact police.”
Uber Canada said its drivers must pass background checks that “include federal, provincial and local records, surpassing Toronto taxi and limo requirements.”
The driver’s name, photo, licence plate number and car make and model appear during a reservation on a smartphone.
“This is a disturbing incident, and upon hearing of these reports, we immediately removed the driver in question from the Uber platform,” said Uber Canada spokesman Susie Heath. “We have been in touch with York Regional Police and will continue to assist in any way we can.”
Uber has been a controversial issue at Toronto City Hall and is expected to come up again next week.
A request from Councillor Jim Karygiannis to ban the Uber app from city-issued phones goes to the executive committee on Tuesday.
Karygiannis also wants council to order city officials to determine “the best way to communicate with all employees the risks associated with using unlicensed and uninsured bandit taxi services during working hours.”
Earlier this month, Co-op Cabs launched its #ChooseTaxi campaign, warning people of the safety risks of riding in an UberX car.
“One of the big things we’re learning about the nightclubs in Toronto is they’re teaming up with Uber and lining these cars up on the street and a lot of young women or men simply get in and they’re under the assumption they’re with an Uber driver,” said Co-op spokesman Alex Pierson. “But you’re getting into an unmarked vehicle, so you don’t really know. It shows that you have to know the car you’re getting into.”