Julie Watts Investigates

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Berkeley gas station attendant recounted the terrifying moments after an Uber rider jumped out of a moving car.

“She was like, ‘Oh, somebody’s chasing me. Somebody’s chasing me,'” the attendant said.

That Uber driver is now in custody, accused of kidnapping women with plans to rape them. This is not the first reported kidnapping or assault by an Uber driver. CBS13 investigated how often rideshare drivers are accused of being predators.

There is no public data on sexual assaults by rideshare drivers, but at least 14 women are pursuing legal action against Uber after reporting sexual assaults. We’ve learned that is just the beginning.

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According to police reports and court reports obtained by CNN, more than 120 Uber and Lyft drivers were reportedly accused of sexual assault, kidnapping or abuse before April of last year — 103 drivers worked for Uber and 18 were Lyft drivers.

Since then, we have covered at least a dozen more riders in California alone who have reported kidnapping or sexual assault by rideshare drivers. Most are in Northern California.

CBS13 reached out to Uber and Lyft Tuesday, and in a statement, Lyft said: “The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. Just last month we announced an expansion of our background check process to include continuous monitoring, as well as a new enhanced identity verification process.”

Uber did not provide a statement but pointed us to the safety features they rolled out last year, including an emergency button and in-app 911 calling.

Rideshare companies are required by the state to perform background checks on every driver every year. Both Uber and Lyft use commercial companies to perform the checks.

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They check things such as driving history, felony records, violent crimes and sexual offenses going back seven years. Unlike taxi drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers are not required to be fingerprinted. Fingerprint background checks are run through the FBI database with access to every law enforcement agency in the country.

Both Uber and Lyft claim their background checks are better than the FBI’s, and they noted state regulators did exempt them from the fingerprint requirement.

We also asked both companies how many sexual assaults and kidnapping reports each has received this year. Neither would provide numbers, but Uber did point us to a link on their website that says they plan to eventually release that data.