Louisville Uber driver charged with sexual abuse of passenger
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A rideshare driver has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman who was a passenger in his vehicle.
Raudel Veloz Cruz, 35, of Louisville, is charged with unlawful imprisonment and sexual abuse.
The arrest report for Veloz Cruz said around 9 p.m. Sunday he picked up the woman who had requested an Uber ride. Once they arrived at the drop-off location on Samuel St. in Germantown, the report states Veloz Cruz locked the doors of the vehicle preventing the woman from getting out.
The victim said Veloz Cruz dumped out her purse inside the car as a “diversion tactic” before grabbing her and attempting to kiss her.
Louisville Metro police said the victim was “visibly distraught” and told officers “she did not consent to unwanted sexual contact.”
Veloz Cruz was taken into custody at his home early Monday and booked into Louisville Metro Corrections. He was arraigned Monday morning, where a judge set his bond at $10,000.
In a statement to WAVE 3 News, Uber wrote:
“What the rider reported is extremely upsetting. We have removed the driver’s access to the platform and are standing by to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”
John Wright, who lives in Germantown doesn’t use Uber or other ride sharing companies but his friends do, and he said they’ve had their own bad experiences during rides.
“This gig economy where you never really know who your driver is or how long they’ve been driving or is their vehicle really safe, it seems to me that could be contributing to part of the problem,” Wright said.
Uber conducts background checks on all its drivers, according to the company’s website. When WAVE 3 News looked into Veloz Cruz’s past, he didn’t have a serious criminal record.
“It’s unfortunate that somebody was put in that kind of position, and I’m not exactly sure what you could do to fix something like that.”
While there is no sure-fire way to prevent an assault, if you’re using a ride sharing app, consider these safety tips:
Before entering the car, check the rear doors for child locks. If they’re engaged, you won’t be able to get out of the car unless the driver lets you.
Then, confirm your name with the driver, match up the license plate number with the one listed in the app, and sit in the back seat, which would make it easier to escape if necessary.
Once you’re in the car, share your trip with trusted contacts through Uber settings.
If there’s an emergency, Uber has an emergency button which will call or text 911. The button displays the real time location and trip information for emergency services to use. However, only drivers have access to the emergency button.
At the time this article was published, Veloz Cruz was still in custody at the Louisville Metro Corrections Detention Center.
If he meets his bond, he will be released on home incarceration, which means he cannot drive for Uber or Lyft. A judge also ordered him to have no contact with the victim.
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