A former Uber driver has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a passenger after dropping her off at her residence, according to court records.
Gabriel Vazquez, who no longer works for the ride-sharing company, was arrested Sunday in connection with the alleged assault in October. An arrest affidavit said a 22-year-old woman requested an Uber ride Oct. 12 after becoming drunk at a local bar and, upon reaching home, needed assistance walking.
Her driver, later identified as Vazquez, followed her to her bedroom and sexually assaulted her, the affidavit said. The woman reported the incident to police and identified Vazquez in a photo lineup. The affidavit said that upon being taken in for questioning Vazquez “initially denied anything sexually happening with the victim but when confronted with facts he confessed to having sex with her when he was aware of the state of intoxication she was in.”
Vazquez, 40, was charged with a second-degree felony of sexual assault and was being held on a $50,000 bond in the Bexar County jail.
Passenger safety has been a central issue in the local and national debate surrounding how ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft should be regulated. Advocates of the services have argued that rideshare services reduce drunk driving, outweighing rare instances of harm to passengers from rideshare drivers.
A dispute over driver background checks led Uber and Lyft to temporarily cease operations in San Antonio in 2015. City Council voted Dec. 5, 2016 to continue optional fingerprinting of rideshare drivers. Uber and Lyft perform third-party state and federal background checks.
“What’s been described is greatly concerning and has no place anywhere,” Uber said in a statement.
Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling explained that, while “no means of transportation is incident-free,” safety tools built into the company’s app provide customers with tracking and 24/7 safety assistance not normally offered by taxi services.
“In this particular situation, we were alerted immediately, and we took action and actually removed [Vazquez’s] access to the app,” Whaling told the Rivard Report. “We worked with law enforcement, the San Antonio Police Department, and we provided information to them for their investigation.”