Police in China have opened an investigation after an Uber driver reportedly robbed and sexually assaulted a female passenger in the city of Chengdu on August 5, the company has confirmed to VentureBeat.
Uber previously failed to reply to multiple requests for comment by Reuters on Thursday.
Reports first surfaced Wednesday (link in Chinese) on local state media that a 42-year-old female passenger had hailed an Uber at 2am August 5, only to be robbed of about $800 and sexually assaulted by the male driver.
The ordeal reportedly lasted for about three hours before the passenger was dropped off. She also claims the male driver, who had a knife, took compromising photographs of her and threatened her not to report the incident to police.
An Uber spokesperson told VentureBeat the company “is in close contact with local authorities” in China, and that police are treating it as a criminal case.
It added that, as with any such safety incident, Uber is conducting its own due diligence on the matter.
“It is our policy to de-activate any driver-partner following any such allegation,” the spokesperson said, “which we did immediately in this instance upon learning of the incident. All Uber driver-partners undergo background checks before being activated on our platform. This driver is no exception and did not have any prior criminal record.”
Uber has previously got itself into hot water over rape claims. In December last year, the service was banned in Delhi following a high-profile rape case. On December 7, Indian police arrested a driver, and Uber went on to issue a public apology.
More recently in June, Chinese police reported the first rape claims against a driver of a car-hailing app, though at the time it didn’t emerge if it was an Uber driver specifically.
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