Sex, groping, drunkenness detailed in Denver rideshare police reports

Drivers, passengers get weird with each other
Posted at 3:05 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 20:39:16-04

DENVER -- Denver is among the U.S. cities where rideshare drivers — and passengers — faced accusations of sexual assault, which is causing members of Congress to question rideshare company policies.

According to Denver police records obtained by Contact7 Investigates, first requested as part of a nationwide CNN investigation, there was enough evidence for police to seek charges against at least two rideshare drivers in Denver.

Altogether, Contact7 flagged 20 reports from the last four years where either drivers or passengers were accused of making unwanted sexual advances.

In some reports, there are claims of people pretending to be rideshare drivers who fool intoxicated passengers into getting rides from them.

Under Colorado open records laws, Denver police were required to redact the names of the drivers and passengers since the cases involved claims of sex crimes.

Among the 18 claims against the drivers was a woman in 2016 who said a driver kissed her and forced her to grab his genitalia. In 2017, a woman said she passed out and woke up in a rideshare vehicle to find a driver touching her genitals while he drove her and her intoxicated friends home.

In 2016, a passenger was accused of grabbing a driver's thigh and trying to kiss her. That report noted the passenger was "obviously intoxicated."

In 2017, records show a passenger was accused of brushing his hand against a woman driver's genitalia.

According to another report, a woman reportedly invited a rideshare driver into her home to use the restroom where they later engaged in various sexual activities.

Out of all 20 cases flagged, only two led to arrest warrants or charges, based on a review of Colorado court filings. Both cases were against drivers.

The remaining cases were either dismissed or never pursued because of a lack of evidence or victim cooperation.

Contact7 spoke with a rideshare driver at random who said the reports do not come as a surprise.

"He kept, like, reaching up and touching me," driver Naomi said of a passenger. Naomi did not provide her last name. "[He kept] calling me sexy and baby."

She said she's encountered all sorts of alarming activity while on the job.

"One girl I picked up at 7-Eleven and she needed me to take her to a halfway house or whatever to do a drug test at, like, midnight," Naomi said. "And then her friend offered me hard drugs as a tip."

Passengers report similar bizarre experiences with rideshare drivers at times.

"I've just had a couple of weird experiences," Tasha Taylor said.

"I try to be very mindful of people's personalities and kind of feel it out that way," Chanel Dupree said.

In the wake of CNN's reporting, nine members of Congress this week sent a letter "to the CEOs of Uber, Lyft, Juno, Curb, and Via ... requesting details about their protocols related to sexual assault and harassment reports, training drivers, and more."

Uber faced scrutiny in Colorado less than a year ago. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission levied an $8.9 million fine against the company, which was later reduced, for hiring 57 drivers who had various issues -- including felony convictions.

Irrespective of the problems, regular rideshare users say the convenience of rideshares outweighs the concern.

"Do you want to get pulled over and get a DUI?" Taylor asked. "Or do you just want to, like, trust somebody not to be a weirdo?"