A former Uber driver has been arrested on charges of driving an inebriated passenger to his Albany Park apartment on Chicago’s Northwest Side, allegedly raping her and then telling her, “I made you happy,” Cook County prosecutors charged Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Judge Peggy Chiampas ordered the driver, Maxime Fohounhedo (pictured), held in lieu of $500,000 bail Tuesday for criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse, the report says. She also banned Fohounhedo from driving people for a car service, saying: “He will not be Ubering anybody,” the report says.
The Washington Post notes that the charges are the latest sexual abuse allegation to hit Uber, which in the past several weeks was banned in several countries and came under increased scrutiny over how carefully it vets its drivers. Indeed, the paper notes that dozens of regular taxi drivers are accused of sexual assault each year, attracting relatively little publicity.
Uber’s most recent incident occurred early Nov. 16 in Chicago when the woman ordered an Uber X and was picked up by Fohounhedo, the report says. The 22-year-old victim then fell asleep in the back passenger seat as he drove onto the highway, Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Mack said, according to the news outlet. Fohounhedo, a native of Benin in West Africa, had his Uber account in his wife’s name, but his picture and phone number were on the account, according to the Sun-Times.
The Sun-Times reports:
Once he was off the highway, Fohounhedo, 30, asked the woman to sit in the front passenger seat because he was unsure of her address, Mack said.
The woman fell asleep again but awoke after Fohounhedo turned left in an alley and stopped his car behind an apartment building, Mack said.
There, Fohounhedo allegedly took the 22-year-old woman’s hand and put it inside his pants.
The woman, who has not been identified because she is a victim, reportedly pulled her hands away but fell asleep a third time, the report says.
When she woke up, she found herself inside an apartment on a dark leather couch with Fohounhedo on top of her and her pants and underpants down to her ankles, Mack said.
After the assault, the driver allegedly helped the victim to leave, escorting her out the rear of the apartment and down one flight of stairs, prosecutors said, the paper writes.
She made a police report as soon as she woke up a few hours later and went to an area hospital where a rape kit was done, Mack said, the Sun-Times reports. The woman was able to identify pictures from inside and outside his apartment. She also identified the driver in a line-up.
Uber spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin said Fohounhedo was removed as an Uber driver as soon as officials at the company were alerted about the alleged attack, the Sun-Times writes. One Wednesday, Uber claimed that Fohounhedo was not authorized to drive for Uber and that he used an account created for his wife, the Associated Press reported.
In Chicago and Boston, Uber added a safety checklist to the riders’ app. The change displays a driver photo and license plate number.