An Uber driver in the Boston area is facing rape and other charges for allegedly beating and sexually assaulting a passenger earlier this month.
Alejandro Done, 46, of Boston, was charged this week with rape, assault to rape, kidnapping, and two counts of assault and battery, according to a statement from Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas.
Uber has cooperated with the investigation, Ryan and Haas said. Done, the driver, passed an Uber background check, the ride-sharing service said.
"This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery," Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh said by email. "Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation."
The charges in Middlesex County come just weeks after an Uber driver in Delhi, India, was also accused of raping a female passenger.
Uber, on Wednesday, announced it will improve security in 2015, in part by enhancing driver screening through the use of biometrics and voice verification.
Done allegedly picked up his female passenger, drover her to a secluded location, then beat and sexually assaulted her, Ryan said. "This alleged predator took advantage of a young woman who trusted that he was who he portrayed himself to be and exploited her vulnerability once he had her in his car," Ryan said in a statement.
The alleged incident happened on the evening of Dec. 6, when the defendant picked up the passenger at a Boston residence, authorities said. The female passenger had contacted Uber after being out with friends.
The defendant drove to a location that the passenger was not familiar with, pulled over in a secluded area and jumped in the back seat where she was sitting, authorities said. He allegedly struck her with his hands, strangled her, locked the car doors so that she could not escape and covered her mouth so she could not scream. During an ensuing physical struggle, the defendant allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, authorities said.
Cambridge police identified the defendant as the driver of the car through the ride-sharing service's records.
Ryan urged ride-sharing service customers to take precautions, such as confirming the car that shows up is the one they ordered.
"Every day people are engaging car services for their transportation needs, and placing their trust in them for their personal safety and security," Ryan said. "While these services are a convenience, and often a necessity of modern urban living, we urge everyone to take precautions to ensure they are as safe as possible."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.