In Boston, Willliam Mancortes is charged with two rapes and a sexual assault that date back to 2017. He was arrested after investigators could match his DNA to the kits collected from the sex assault victims.
The defendant was impersonating an Uber driver by picking up an intoxicated woman in downtown Boston and assaulting them in the vehicle. The first assault occurred in May of 2017 as the woman left the Bell in Hand restaurant.
She did not remember much but was helped into the backseat, which she assumed was an Uber, then the defendant got into the backseat with her. Similar events happened to two other women. These may not be his only victims, with similar reports of someone impersonating an Uber driver and sexually assaulting intoxicated women.
DNA proved that Mancortes had done this more than once.
Uber’s statement on these incidents, “These allegations are atrocious, and the suspect was banned from the Uber platform years ago, and we take reports of this nature very seriously and cooperate with law enforcement on their investigation.”
Mancortes is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing later this week.
Rideshare Sexual Assaults
Most of us have used rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. They are convenient, fast, and affordable. But like the above story, there have been incidents in the news where rideshare customers were sexually assaulted. Uber reported 3,824 reports of sexual assaults in 2019.
Meanwhile, 2018 saw 5,981 incidents of sexual assault.
These numbers do not paint an accurate picture when 2 out of every 3 sexual assaults go unreported. This means many victims are not reporting these assaults, and the actual numbers are even higher than what the companies release. So, how can you protect yourself when you use a ridesharing service?
How to Protect Yourself from Rideshare Sexual Assaults
Before you even get into the car, you can take steps that will make a difference in your rideshare experience by adding a layer of protection.
Check the Driver’s Profile on the App
Each driver will have a profile and reviews from past riders. If the driver does not have complimentary reviews, move on to the next.
Learn the Driver’s Name, Car Model, and License Plate Number
As the suspect did in the above story, many attacks are made by someone posing as the driver. To ensure you do not get into the wrong car, review the driver’s picture, make and model of car, and plate number in the app and verify that the vehicle and driver who pulls up match the information in the app. If the car or driver does not match your information, do not get in and contact the company immediately.
Do Not Wait on the Road or Curb
Waiting on the side of the road or at the curb for your driver can make you a target. Predators may drive around looking for people who are waiting for a ride and can easily pull up, and the victim will often jump in, assuming it is their hired ride. Staying inside is the safest. Limiting the time you spend looking like you are waiting for your driver makes you less vulnerable to predators. Once your driver has picked you up, you can take additional steps to stay safe.
Do Not Ride in the Front
Many of the sexual assault reports are made by females who sat in the front seat, and the driver assaulted, groped, or began touching the passenger.
Make Sure the Driver is on the Correct Route
You can see the designated route through the app when you are in the car. Check the app to verify that you are on the assigned route once you are in the vehicle. If the driver goes off course and you feel uncomfortable, call 911 for help.
Update Family and Friends
Updating your family is easy and can be done with the “share status.” The driver’s name, license, location, and photo will be sent to the contacts you select.
On Lyft, you can tap the “Send ETA” button to immediately send your route and location to your loved ones.
In Case of Emergency
Follow your intuition. If something wrong is happening, you will know it. Act as soon as possible. Avoiding a potentially dangerous situation is worth any awkwardness or unpleasantness. If you believe you are in imminent danger, be sure to:
Try to attract attention by yelling, blowing a whistle, or otherwise making loud noises. If safe, you can also attempt to get out of the car and get to a public place filled with people.
Contact an Attorney if You Were Assaulted by a Rideshare Driver
If you or someone you know have been the victim of a sexual assault by a driver for a rideshare company, you can file a civil lawsuit for compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. The sexual assault attorneys at Charles Boyk Law Offices understand it can be intimidating to tell your story, but you deserve compensation for your injuries and the ability to start rebuilding your life. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.