Report: Santa Clara County Battles With Uber Over Reporting Sexual Assaults to Police

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Santa Clara County Officials Urge Uber to Report Sexual Assaults to Police

Santa Clara County Officials Urge Uber to Report Sexual Assaults to Police

Oct 7, 2022

A recent report from the New York Times highlights how rideshare company Uber handles reports of sexual assault among drivers and passengers alike. Officials from Santa Clara County, including Assistant District Attorney Terry Harman, recently issued a memo detailing “concerns about sexual assaults on Uber rides.”

“The memo she sent to her boss, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, said that although their office prosecuted several hundred sexual assault cases each year, only one had involved an Uber driver,” the New York Times reported.

However, as the New York Times story confirmed, based on data released by Uber, Harman estimated that that riders in Santa Clara County had reported as many as 60 sexual assault incidents to the company in 2017 and 2018 alone.

“Uber receives a complaint, investigates the complaint, makes a finding and handles said finding internally and privately,” Ms. Harman said, according to the New York Times. “Uber has essentially carved out its own justice system.”

Since issuing the memo, the New York Times confirmed that Harman and other local officials, including Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, have repeatedly met with Uber in an effort to persuade the rideshare company to “report sexual assaults to law enforcement, if only on a trial basis.”

Uber, however, has declined all efforts on the part of Santa Clara officials, according to the New York Times. Furthermore, the rideshare company reportedly argues that victims of sexual assault “should control when and how to disclose their experiences.”

“The impasse is part of a larger battle over the way Uber and other ride-hailing companies handle reports of sexual assault,” the New York Times said. “In recent years, both Uber and Lyft have released data revealing the number of assault and harassment incidents reported to the company. The two companies have also started sharing data about dangerous drivers with each other.”

But, as the New York Times noted, “some believe the companies should go further.

Uber and Lyft Face Sexual Assault Lawsuits From Survivors

The New York Times’ report further cited sexual assault survivors having sued Uber and Lyft in recent years, confirming the following statistics:

  • Since September 2021, at least 40 women have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Uber.
  • In August, 13 survivors filed sexual assault lawsuits against Lyft.

All of the sexual assault civil lawsuits filed against Uber and Lyft “are in the initial stages and have yet to go to trial,” the New York Times confirmed.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office and the mayor of San Jose are arguing that Uber, Lyft, and all other rideshare companies should report sex crime incidents to the authorities “so that they can be officially investigated,” the Times reported. Officials cite the reporting of rideshare sexual assaults by companies like Uber and Lyft to actual law enforcement officials rather than simply conducting internal investigations as “essential to maintaining public safety,” the Times said.

“People who assault a rider in an Uber car, they [Santa Clara officials] argue, may be kicked off the service, but that will not prevent them from assaulting someone in other situations.”

We just want Uber to call the police and let the police investigate,” Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen said during a recent interview with the New York Times. “The victim may or may not want to talk to the police – and that is fine. But Uber needs to let us explain to the victim what their options are.”

The urgings of Santa Clara public officials come in the wake of serious fines being levied against Uber for failing to provide information related to past sexual assaults.

“In 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered Uber to provide more detailed information about sexual assaults on Uber rides, including the names of any witnesses,” the Times reported. “When Uber failed to comply, the state fined the company $59 million. Uber later settled the case for more than $9 million.

Uber’s well-known 2019 “safety transparency report” revealed that the rideshare company had received nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault pertaining to rides occurring in 2017 and 2018. According to the California Public Utilities Commission, over 1,240 of those 6,000 confirmed reports were made in California.

“Considering that Santa Clara County contains 5% of the state’s population, the district attorney’s office estimated that 62 assaults had occurred in the county during that two-year stretch. But only one incident was reported to the police,” the New York Times said.

“Though Uber says it will not share personal details with the authorities, there may be other possibilities. When Uber settled with the California Public Utilities Commission, it agreed to share information on sexual assault and harassment to the California regulator in a way that keeps victims anonymous and provides a way for them to share more information if they choose to,” the Times report added.

District Attorney Rosen indicated to the Times that he intends to continue putting pressure on Uber to disclose sexual assault incidents to police, attempting to balance the concerns of survivors with the need for public safety.

“It is in Uber’s interest to do this if it wants to be a positive part of society,” Rosen said to the New York Times.

2023 Uber and Lyft Sexual Assault Statistics

Contact an Uber Sexual Assault Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is California’s premier Uber and Lyft rideshare sexual assault firm offering a unique and all-encompassing form of representation for survivors. In addition to providing access to the absolute best California sexual assault attorneys available, DLG provides survivors with access to critical resources and a four-tiered support network of professionals.

Our Sex Crimes Division includes a group of professionals (each one offering a unique resource or specialty) hand-picked by DLG’s founder and president, Sam Dordulian. Known as the DLG SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts), our four-tiered representation provides critical peace of mind throughout the entire legal process.

As a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian founded DLG to be the nation’s leading sexual assault firm helping survivors obtain the justice they deserve. Whether your claim involves an instance of rideshare sexual assault or another type of sex crime, we will fight to secure justice quickly and recover maximum financial compensation on your behalf.

Contact us today for a free and no obligation consultation to discuss your Uber or Lyft rideshare sexual assault case at 818-322-4056. DLG’s winning team has successfully helped countless survivors recover maximum financial damages awards and obtain the justice they deserve on their own terms.

Our sexual assault attorneys accept every case on a contingency fee agreement, which means you never have to worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses when securing the very best legal representation available. Our No Win/No Fee Guarantee means you don’t pay a penny until after we recover maximum financial compensation for your rideshare sexual assault claim.

If you experienced a sexual assault incident, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Reach out to a dedicated member of our team today to learn more about how we can help you secure the justice you deserve through an Uber or Lyft sexual assault civil lawsuit.

Go See Sam