AUSTIN (KXAN) — The assault survivor support center, SafePlace, has received two more complaints from women who said their ride share drivers attacked them. This brings the number of sexual assault complaints to six in a six-month period ending Dec. 16, according to a spokesperson for the non-profit.
Spokesperson Victoria Berryhill wrote in an email there have been no further ride share-related assaults reported to SafePlace since that time. The revelation comes at the same time KXAN learned of an alleged sex attack earlier this year involving an ‘independent’ driver for hire.
KXAN first reported in November SafePlace counselled four women who said their Uber or Lyft drivers attacked them. Austin Police separately have been investigating six complaints since last April. No arrests have been made.
New Year’s Day Austin Police say they arrested a 20-year-old man and charged him with sexual assault, a second degree felony, after allegedly agreeing to drive a woman home for $40. The man is not believed to be affiliated with any of the formal ride share companies now doing business in Austin.
An arrest report shows the woman met Hector Gabriel Vega-Gonzalez downtown after she became separated from a friend. Vega-Gonzalez agreed to drive her to her home in Cedar Park. On the way, the report shows Vega-Gonzalez “drove to his residence telling her he needed to get something.” When she told him she would stay in the car, “he persisted telling her she needed to go inside with him.”
Once inside the report contends Vega-Gonzalez assaulted the woman who was able to get back outside and dial 9-1-1 for help. Police picked up the man shortly afterward. He is due in Travis County District court March 14 to face the sexual assault charge and a second charge involving illegal drugs. according to the docket report.
While it may sound obvious from lessons learned in grade school about ‘stranger danger’, sex crimes detectives remind people to not get in a car with a stranger.
Uber and Lyft each have safety protocols for riders.