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Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting female passenger in North Hollywood

Updated: 06 28 , 2017 14:45
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LOS ANGELES, June 27-- A 46-year-old Uber driver was charged on Tuesday with raping a female passenger at a North Hollywood motel, Southern California, while the 24-year-old woman was unconscious, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.

Alaric Spence faces up to 15 years to life in prison if convicted of one felony count each of kidnapping to commit rape, rape of an unconscious person and rape by use of drugs, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Spence, who was arrested late Friday, has five prior drug-related felony convictions and had worked for Uber for the past six months, according to Los Angeles police.

Investigators released images of Spence and his vehicle, a 2015 silver four-door Nissan Sentra.

Police said that Spence picked up a 24-year-old woman in downtown Los Angeles last Friday and was supposed to drop her off in Hollywood, the police said.

Spence drove her to a North Hollywood motel, where he allegedly raped her and left her there. The woman was intoxicated and unconscious at the time of the alleged attack, the prosecutor said.

The woman may passed out in the back of his car while en route to Hollywood. Spence is suspected of driving the woman to the motel, renting a room and then carrying her from his car into the room, according to City News Service.

The woman woke up alone, not knowing where she was or how she got there, and called police, Capt. William Hayes, commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division, said at a news conference Monday afternoon at LAPD headquarters.

"To do something that brazen ... in my investigators' and my opinion ... we believe it is something he has done before ..." Hayes said. Uber issued a statement saying it is fully supporting the LAPD investigation and has banned the driver from the Uber app, according to Los Angeles Times. "No person should ever have to experience the violent act that's been reported to police," the company said.

Early this year, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service reached its goal of recruiting 12,000 new drivers in the greater Los Angeles area and the company is looking to hire 15,000 more.

This is not the only sexual assault allegations to involve a driver for the ride-hailing service. Last September, Governor Jerry Brown of the U.S. state of California signed AB 1289 into law, which requires more comprehensive checks than before. Ride-hailing services should take a deeper look into their drivers' criminal histories under the law.

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