A South Carolina sixth-grade teacher who moonlights as a driver for Uber is accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger.
Patrick Aiello, 39, faces charges of kidnapping and forcible rape, according to The Post and Courier. He has been removed as an Uber driver, and placed on paid leave from his job at Zucker Middle School in Charleston.
According to police, Aiello picked up the 23-year-old alleged female victim and a male companion from the Windjammer Club in Isle of Palms on Sunday night. He drove the passengers to the man's home in downtown Charleston and dropped him off.
Although she initially exited the car, the woman, who was intoxicated, decided she didn't want to walk home alone, according to police. She asked Aiello to drive her to her residence a few blocks away.
Instead of driving her home, police said, Aiello drove around until the woman noticed that they weren't in her neighborhood. She told police that Aiello then said she needed to pay him in sexual favors.
The passenger told cops she offered Aiello money and begged him to let her exit the car, but he yelled at her and demanded sex. He then stopped the car along Savannah Highway and allegedly assaulted her, police said.
Afterward, he kicked her out of the vehicle. The woman ran for help and was struck by a car on the highway in the process. She told responders she'd been assaulted by an unknown man. She later picked Aiello out of a lineup.
Investigators said the woman said she had trouble recalling details, but that she remembers Aiello being on top of her.
Aiello, who was arrested Monday, told detectives that he'd stopped the car along the highway, then kissed the woman and performed oral sex on her before kicking her out of his car.
Uber said in a statement that they are cooperating with authorities.
The ride-sharing company has been criticized for being slow to tighten its driver screening process as it expands. Last year, Gawker reported how some drivers shared accounts in order to get around the company's background check system, which was run by a third party, Hirease.
There have been several cases involving the alleged sexual assaults of female passengers by male Uber drivers.
In December, a Chicago Uber driver was charged with criminal sexual assault after a passenger said she blacked out and woke up in his apartment with the man on top of her. She later texted a friend and said she'd been sexually assaulted.
However, the charges against the driver were later dropped after an audio recording made the night of the alleged attack surfaced. Defense attorneys said the audio proved the sexual contact between the driver and the passenger was consensual.
Earlier that month, an Uber driver in Boston pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in the alleged rape of a passenger. In that case, the driver allegedly climbed into the back seat with a female passenger, then beat her before locking the doors and sexually assaulting her.
In July, Boston Police linked Alejandro Done, the driver in that case, to five other sexual assaults by DNA evidence and witnesses.
This story has been updated with information about Uber's business relationships, and the Chicago sexual assault case.
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