UPDATE 7/15: A woman who said she was raped by an Uber driver on Capitol Hill early Sunday morning had in fact taken a ride from a stranger who offered her a lift while she was “highly intoxicated,” a Seattle police spokesperson told CHS. The suspect was not posing as an Uber driver, police said.
According to SPD, the woman, who was visiting from Texas, had taken a Uber ride earlier in the day and mistakenly reported to police that it was an Uber driver that had raped her in an unknown Capitol Hill park. The app-based rideshare service has been cleared of any connection to the incident and police say they are still searching for the suspect, described as a Middle Eastern or Black male driving a red SUV.
Original Report: A woman visiting Seattle from Texas said she was raped by an Uber driver early Sunday morning at an unknown park on Capitol Hill, according to Seattle Police. UPDATE: A Seattle police spokesperson told CHS that investigators determined Monday afternoon that the suspect was not an Uber driver, despite the initial report, and the company has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident. The investigation into the alleged sexual assault is still open.
Police reports said the woman used the Uber app to call for a driver at around 2 AM to take her from downtown to her fiancé’s house on Capitol Hill. A man driving a red SUV responded to the call.
The woman told police she was unfamiliar with the area, but said she knew the driver was not taking her in the right direction. She said the suspect then turned off to an unknown park on Capitol Hill, pulled her out of the car, and raped her.
The woman told police she was afraid the man would kill her if she didn’t do what he said. After pleading with the driver to drop her off anywhere, he left her at 15th and Thomas. The victim knocked on a door of a nearby house and told a resident she had been raped. The resident did not let her in and called police.
When police arrived they noted the victim’s knees were cut and it appeared that her blouse had been ripped. The victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center. Police were able to get the suspect’s name from the victim’s Uber receipt.
Uber spokesperson Eva Behrend sent the following statement to CHS in response to the report:
Rider safety is Uber’s #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation, but have not yet been contacted directly with regard to an incident in Seattle.
Meanwhile, the City Council passed a new set of regulations for car hire services on Monday that removed caps on the number of drivers that could operate in the city and solidified stricter insurance requirements. The council also voted to issue 200 more traditional taxi licenses over four years.