Former Uber Driver Charged with Sex Assault

Harbir Parmar

An Uber driver kidnapped and groped a sleeping passenger in the back of his cab before kicking her to the curb on a highway in CT - and charging her more than $1,000 for a trip to MA she never took, the feds charged Tuesday.

Parmar, 24, of Howard Beach, New York, is charged with one count of kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

According to the complaint unsealed Tuesday, Harbir Parmar, 24, was working for Uber on February 21, 2018, when he picked up a female customer in Manhattan.

The incident, as described in a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in federal court in White Plains, was not only every taxi passenger's nightmare, but it underscored a long-running debate about the screening of taxi and ride-hail drivers and whether more safeguards, like panic buttons in the back seat, are needed. When the victim woke up and allegedly found him on top of her, Parmar went back to the front and continued driving.

" The criminal acts outlined in this complaint are reprehensible".

She pleaded with Parmar to take her home - and later demanded to be taken to a police station - but Parmar instead kicked her out of his vehicle on the side of I-95 in Branford, Conn., some 60 miles from her home, prosecutors alleged.

Parmar then dropped her off off on the side of a highway, the complaint states, and the woman memorized the vehicle's license plate and walked to a convenience store.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said the woman utilised a ride sharing service trusting that her driver would provide a safe ride home.

The woman's fare was refunded within days, Uber added.

"The presumption of innocence remains with my client", Parmar's lawyer, Susanne Brody, told The New York Times at the courthouse after the hearing. "No one-man or woman-should fear such an attack when they simply hire a auto service".

"Instead Harbir Parmar made an outrageous choice, deciding to unlawfully take advantage of his passenger at a moment of vulnerability for his own selfish motives". This individual's behavior goes far beyond ridesharing companies' efforts to revise their ethics codes and put stronger emphasis on background checks for their drivers. "The people we serve deserve much better", NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill sad. "These charges are appalling, and such behavior will never be tolerated by the NYPD or any of our local, state, or federal law enforcement partners".

The case is being handled by the Office's White Plains Division. "I'll be speaking to the Assembly Transportation Committee to find out if there are any other ideas already on the table".

Uber said that the company blocked Parma from using its app in February and that he hadn't taken a trip since the incident.

He also sent false information about the application of a cleaning fee to be applied to the accounts of Uber's customers on at least three occasions.

"What's been reported is disgusting and something no person should go through", the company said.

Parmar later admitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the woman had not vomited in his vehicle, according to the criminal complaint.

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