Uber Says Chicago Driver Charged in Sex Assault Not Authorized - NBC Chicago

Uber Says Chicago Driver Charged in Sex Assault Not Authorized

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The driver disputes claims that he sexually assaulted a passenger. Anthony Ponce reports. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014)

    Uber says a Chicago driver accused of sexual assault was not authorized to be picking up passengers for the ride-sharing company.

    The San Francisco-based company says Maxime Fohounhedo was driving on an account in his wife's name in violation of Uber's rules. Prosecutors say he used his own photo and phone number on the account.

    Uber spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin couldn't immediately explain how that discrepancy could have been missed during the application process or despite what she said were Uber's "regular re-checks" of driver photos.

    "We do our best to send drivers though our background check process, which far exceeds what's expected of taxis," she said. "But there is also a responsibility for the rider to make sure that when they get into an Uber that they're checking the license plate and they're checking the driver's face and making sure all that matches up."

    In this case, though, such scrutiny by the rider might not have helped because Fohounhedo's own photo would have showed up on the user's smartphone, Mullin acknowledged.

    The Uber app allows smartphone users to search for rides from regular taxis, limos and private individuals such as Fohounhedo who use their own vehicles in an arrangement known as ride-sharing.

    Fohounhedo, 30, is accused of assaulting a 22-year-old woman who was a passenger in his cab on Nov. 16, according to formal charges announced by Chicago police Monday night.

    On Tuesday a judge ordered him held in lieu of $500,000 bail. A public defender has not yet been appointed for him.

    Sheena Fohounhedo, the driver's wife, told NBC Chicago on Tuesday the couple was shocked when her husband was taken into custody, saying he had not heard from police until the arrest.

    "I do believe if anything happened, she agreed to it," Mrs. Fohounhedo said, adding she believes her husband is an honest man. "I don't believe my husband did anything wrong."

    No phone listing could be found for his wife for comment Wednesday.

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