Uber Driver Charged With Sexually Assaulting Unconscious Woman

A detective said the man "described both women as extremely intoxicated, but denied any sexual contact."
Two Denver women say that Uber driver Luis Galeano-Bedon assaulted one of them in his vehicle.
Two Denver women say that Uber driver Luis Galeano-Bedon assaulted one of them in his vehicle.
Denver District Attorney

WASHINGTON -- The Denver district attorney charged an Uber driver on Wednesday with two counts of sexual assault, accusing him of violating an unconscious 24-year-old woman and following her and a friend to their hotel room. The driver was classified as a contractor for the ride-sharing company, but has been removed from the platform pending the investigation.

Uber promises that it screens drivers through county, federal and multi-state criminal background checks. A separate lawsuit filed against the company last month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleges that the company markets to "intoxicated female riders," while "putting these women at risk."

In Denver, two women arranged for an Uber ride on the night of Halloween. Luis Galeano-Bedon, the 43-year-old driver, gave the women his personal cell phone number and told them to call when they were ready to be picked up, according to the arrest warrant. The women later called him to get a ride back to their hotel.

Galeano-Bedon allegedly invited the women to sit in the front seat of the minivan. Both women reported that they fell asleep. One woman awoke to Galeano-Bedon "penetrating her vaginally with his fingers," according to the arrest warrant. He then allegedly tried to follow the women back to their hotel room, holding the victim's shoes. One of the women began to film him with her phone, and he shielded his face and fled, the report said.

A detective reported that Galeano-Bedon "described both women as extremely intoxicated, but denied any sexual contact." He was asked to give a saliva sample, but his attorney reportedly advised against the request.

Galeano-Bedon, who was arrested earlier this week, is scheduled to appear in court in Denver on Nov. 23 to hear the formal charges against him. The Denver District Attorney's Office and Denver County Court were unable to provide his attorney's name to The Huffington Post. A call to Galeano-Bedon's cell phone went unanswered.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company is working with the Denver Police Department and will cooperate with their ongoing investigation. If the women did not request a ride with Galeano-Bedon through Uber, as the arrest warrant claims, it is not considered an Uber trip, the spokeswoman said.

There have been other serious sexual assault allegations against Uber drivers. In Austin, Texas, police received five complaints from women between April and August who claimed they were assaulted by Uber drivers, according to NBC affiliate KXAN. In June, an Uber driver in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. And a former Uber driver in Boston, who was already serving over a decade in prison for rape, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to charges that he attacked four other women.

District attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles filed a lawsuit in August alleging that Uber has allowed people with felony convictions for sexual exploitation and kidnapping for ransom with a firearm to pass the company's security screening.

In a letter to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in July, Uber noted that in California, potential drivers are disqualified if they have appeared on the national sex offender registry, on a series of databases that flag suspected terrorists, or if they have been convicted of serious crimes in the last seven years, which is as far back as the company can legally check.

A similar security screening occurs in Colorado.

"Our technology makes it possible to focus on safety for riders and driver-partners before, during and after a trip," Joe Sullivan, chief security officer for Uber, wrote in the letter. "That said, no means of transportation can ever be 100% safe."

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