According to an explosive investigative report by CNN on Monday, more than 100 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault and abuse. And now, women are coming forward to tell their stories. The report reveals some important new insight considering there's no public data on sexual violence complaints against the company's employees. Bustle has reached out to Uber for a response and will update accordingly.
UPDATE: An Uber spokesperson emailed Bustle a statement regarding the CNN investigative report. It says:
These stories are horrific and our hearts go out to the victims. We worked with CNN to understand their findings and determined that Uber did 2.4 billion trips in the U.S. in that same period. But even one incident on our platform is too many which is why safety is Uber’s top priority for 2018 and beyond. We recently strengthened our safety approach with new features including an emergency button, driver screening improvements, and the addition of the former Secretary of Homeland Security to head up Uber’s Safety Advisory Board. This is just a start and we are committed to doing even more.
EARLIER: Last week, however, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi did tell the news network that addressing reports of sexual assault was a "new priority for us." Khosrowshahi added that it was "a priority that I expect to remain a priority for the foreseeable future." In addition, Uber is coming out with new safety features for its app.
Without any publicly-available information, CNN said that it took the help of police and federal court reports to carry out its investigation. The files and records, according to CNN, came from 20 cities in the United States and show that 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their patrons.
In its report, CNN detailed the terrifying experience of a woman who alleged she was raped by her Uber driver. The woman, who was not identified by CNN, is also plaintiff in a representative lawsuit against the company. In regards to the lawsuit, an Uber spokesperson told ABC News, "Sexual assault has no place anywhere and we are committed to doing our part to end this violence."
The woman from Miami told CNN that she was coming back from a night out with her friend. She took an Uber ride to head home and passed out on her way only to wake up in the morning to see her clothes were on the floor. The woman said that her driver allegedly took her into her apartment and assaulted her. "You are pretty much hitchhiking with strangers," she told CNN. "How many people is it going to take to get assaulted before something is done?" According to CNN, the driver has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual battery as he waits to stand trial.
In another case from 2016, a woman from Long Beach, California, reported an Uber driver for allegedly sexually assaulting her after she passed out in the backseat. According to a police report reviewed by CNN, the company's driver denied that the sex was nonconsensual. The woman is now suing the company and told CNN, "You don't think it will happen to you. I still feel ashamed ... that's why I'm here. I want a voice. [I'm] tired of being quiet."
In early April, before CNN published its investigative report, it noted in a separate article that Uber had updated its guidelines on background checks for its employees — without the company explicitly mentioning reports of sexual assault by its drivers. CEO Khosrowshahi wrote about the changes in a blog post on April 12, and said that Uber users could expect to see a range of updates in their app in the coming summer. One of the new changes made to the Uber app includes the addition of an in-app 911 call-button.
Additionally, the new update will allow users to access a "Safety Toolkit" which offers a "Safety Center," an option to share one's trip with friends and family, and a 911 assistance option. In addition to those options, Uber riders will have the power to create a list of five trusted family members and friends who can be alerted in the case of emergency.
At the end of his blog post, Khosrowshahi said, "Technology can make travel safer than ever before. And while there’s been a lot of progress, we’re committed to doing more."