By: Megan Gibson
Late Sunday night, November 19, a woman and her male friend got into a
vehicle that they thought was part of Uber as a “vehicle for hire.”
They got into the vehicle at DuPont Circle and asked to be taken to American
University. Police stated that the two had flagged down the driver on
the street. The driver then instructed the woman to sit in the front seat,
and when they arrived at American University, the driver ordered the male
passenger to get out of the vehicle. When her male friend got out of the
vehicle, the driver than sped off with the woman still in the front seat.
He later stopped on American University’s campus,
where he sexually assaulted her.
Fortunately, the driver, El Honcine Jourhdaly, has been identified and
charged by D.C. police with first-degree sexual abuse and kidnapping.
Unfortunately, for the victim and for the community, such crimes are not
uncommon in the District, or in the nation. Females are 14 times more
likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault, and only an estimated
28% of sexual assault and rape victims report the crime to law enforcement officials. It is
part of our duty as lawyers and as a community to hold such sexual assaulters
accountable for their crimes, and to also offer appropriate resources
and support systems for sexual assault survivors.
It should be noted that Uber vehicles do not pick up people who try to
flag them down, they only way to obtain an Uber ride is through their
app. The company has issued
safety tips, including to cross-check the driver’s information with the app,
as well as the ability to share your trip details with friends. While
such tips certainly are not a fail-safe solution, following such instructions
could greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to a terrible crime,
like that of the one noted above.