Uber driver suspended during sexual assault investigation

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A young woman says she was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver early Sunday morning after celebrating her birthday with her friends.

The woman, who we will call "Sarah," said she was drinking with her friends in downtown Houston Saturday night. She continued celebrating at her friend's home in north Houston.

Something happened at her friend's house that made her uncomfortable, so she walked to the Chevron gas station on Irvington Blvd and called her husband, Adam Benton, to come pick her up.

Instead, he sent an Uber.

"So I called Uber to come pick her up at the location where she was at, and when the gentleman got there, he assured her that everything was going to be safe," Benton said, "And that she'd have a safe ride home."

When the Uber driver arrived, Sarah got into the passenger's seat.

"I feel so embarrassed, but I passed out. And when I woke up, he had his hand inside me and was kissing my neck," Sarah said.

Sarah ran back inside the gas station and called 911 and called her husband again.

"And then I get a phone call from my wife crying, saying there is a problem and the police are on their way," Benton said.

When police officers arrived, they questioned Sarah and the Uber driver, who had not left the station. According to a spokesman for the Houston Police Department, the Uber driver told officers that Sarah fell asleep in the passenger's seat of the car and that he buckled her seat belt and adjusted her seat for her. He denied assaulting her.

"Right now, I feel upset," Sarah said, "You know, I'm tired, I wanted to just have a good birthday, have drinks with my friends, have a good time, come home and spend Father's Day with my husband," Sarah said, "Then none of that happened. Like at all."

Sarah and her husband want Uber customers to know that they may not be as safe as they think.

The driver in question passed a city-mandated background check, according to a City of Houston spokeswoman.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office has not filed charges. The Houston Police Department's Special Victims Unit is still investigating.

A spokeswoman for Uber said the driver is not allowed to drive for Uber during the investigation.

"We are deeply concerned by today's report. We are in close contact with law enforcement and the driver in question has been removed from the Uber platform," An Uber spokeswoman told Eyewitness News.
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