A man acting as an Uber driver has been accused of kidnapping and raping a woman who flagged him down for a ride early Sunday morning. The assault was said to have taken place on campus at American University where the victim is a student.
Around 3:00am on Sunday a woman and her male companion who had been drinking were rather intoxicated. When leaving the bar they were visiting they saw a car displaying an Uber sticker, and they signaled for a ride rather than using the app in the traditional fashion of ordering the service.
The driver, 36-year-old El Houcine Jourhdaly, allegedly informed the couple that he could only accept cash payment and proceeded to drive them to the university campus. The passengers began arguing in the back seat of the car causing the woman to move to the front seat where she passed out.
When the car arrived at the college the male passenger exited the vehicle and left the woman asleep in the front seat. Jourhdaly drove off with the woman and was purportedly seen circling around campus for nearly 15 minutes when surveillance camera video from the university was reviewed. He then proceeded to park in an isolated lot where he sexually assaulted the 20-year-old woman.
After the alleged attack Jourhdaly brought the victim back to her dormitory where he left her. The woman notified campus police, and the authorities were contacted.
36-year-old Jourhdaly was taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of kidnapping and sexual abuse charges. When facing a D.C. Superior Court Judge he claimed that the woman consented to the sexual encounter. The judge ruled that the woman was too intoxicated to consent to sexual relations, but dismissed the kidnapping charges due to lack of evidence.
Uber representatives stated that Jourhdaly had been a driver for them from January 2014 until 2015 when he was banned. A reason for his removal from the company was not disclosed.
Jourhdaly was released from jail with orders to obtain a GPS monitor and make no contact with the victim. He was also instructed that he will not be allowed to drive any passengers who are not family members.
If convicted of all charges Jourhdaly faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to appear in court on January 16.
If you or someone you love is suspected of sexual abuse, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.