Police in China have opened an investigation after an Uber driver reportedly robbed and sexually assaulted a female passenger in the city of Chengdu on August 5, the company has confirmed to VentureBeat.
Reports first surfaced Wednesday (link in Chinese) on local state media that a 42-year-old female passenger had hailed an Uber at 2 a.m., August 5, only to be robbed of about $800 and sexually assaulted by the male driver. Uber had yet to respond to the reports, however.
The ordeal reportedly lasted for about three hours before the passenger was dropped off. She also claims the male driver, who had a knife, took compromising photographs of her and threatened her not to report the incident to police.
An Uber spokesperson told VentureBeat the company is in close contact with local authorities in China, and that police are treating it as a criminal case.
It added that, as with any such safety incident, Uber is conducting its own due diligence on the matter.
The company says it is their policy to deactivate any driver-partner following such allegations, and that they did so immediately in this case upon learning of the incident. The driver in question did not have any prior criminal record, it added.
Uber has previously gotten into hot water over rape claims. In December last year, the service was banned in Delhi following a high-profile rape case. On December 7, Indian police arrested a driver, and Uber went on to issue a public apology.
More recently, in June, Chinese police reported the first rape claims against a driver of a car-hailing app, though at the time they didn’t specify if it was an Uber driver.