Former Uber Driver Charged With Fondling Passenger

A former driver for the Uber rideshare service faces battery charges for allegedly fondling a passenger last month.

Jigneshkumar Patel, 31, allegedly touched the woman’s legs and breast after picking her up about 1:40 p.m. March 8 in the 100 block of West Cermak Road, according to a Chicago Police report.

The woman told police she asked the Uber driver to go north, but instead, he headed south and told her, “Don’t worry about it, I know where I am going,” the report said.

When the woman said she knew how to get to her destination, Patel asked her to sit in the front seat. After she moved to the front, Patel began telling her how pretty she was, and allegedly touched her legs and her breast, according to the report.

The woman asked to get out of the car, but he kept driving, the report said. He eventually began driving her toward her destination after she threatened to call police.

He ultimately let her out of the four-door Toyota Corolla at Diversey and Clark, asking her not to call the police and saying it was a misunderstanding, according to the report.

The woman filed a civil lawsuit last month against Uber and Patel in Cook County Circuit Court. Since the incident, she has suffered mood swings and nightmares, and is afraid to leave home, she claims in the suit.

In a statement responding to the suit, Uber said it deactivated the driver’s account after hearing about the alleged incident, and does so for “similar complaints.”

“Any situation where a rider or driver feels unsafe is absolutely unacceptable to us,” Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian said. “The safety of riders and drivers comes first, and we will work with law enforcement in every way we can to help any investigative efforts.”

Patel was charged with misdemeanor battery after turning himself in to police two days after the incident, according to the police report.

He was released on a $1,500 individual recognizance bond, and will next appear in court May 12 in Branch 34 at 155 W. 51st St.

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