Southern California Uber Driver Accused of Rape
Uber can be really convenient. You can avoid traffic and not have to worry about driving if you’ve had a few drinks. However, there are increasing safety concerns when it comes to Uber – and those concerns aren’t about accidents. Those concerns center on sexual assaults, rapes, and murders committed by Uber drivers.
Earlier this week, one of these issues hit home in Southern California. An Uber driver has been accused of attempting to rape a passenger. According to reports, a woman requested an Uber in Fontana, after enjoying a night out at the bar with some friends. 32-year-old Alonso Calle accepted the ride request and showed up to take her home.
However, the woman alleges that, after falling asleep in the back of the vehicle, she woke up and found Calle on top of her. She claims that he was attempting to rape her; he argues that the sex was consensual.
Calle has been arrested for the sex offense. Police are investigating and determining whether criminal charges will be filed.
Thousands of Allegations of Sexual Assault Filed Against Uber Drivers
In December 2019, Uber published an 84-page safety report. According to that report, Uber received almost 6,000 reports of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018. This included:
- 3,000 reports of nonconsensual sexual contact
- 587 reports of attempted rape, and
- 464 reports of rape.
Uber is currently facing several lawsuits over these allegations. The woman who was reportedly sexually assaulted by her San Bernardino County Uber driver could potentially file a lawsuit of her own.
Evidence in a California Rape Case
Rape is a serious criminal offense. In California, it’s defined under Penal Code Section 261 PC to mean “an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator” without that person’s consent. There are a lot of ways that an act of rape can be accomplished. Under 261 PC, rape can occur when the victim is unconscious or unable to resist due to intoxication, or through the use of force or intimidation.
In order to get a conviction, state prosecutors have to prove that a defendant is guilty of the crime of rape beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves proving each element of the offense – based on the specific charge under the Penal Code.
In order to satisfy the burden of proof, the state has to have evidence. That evidence can be direct (e.g., video footage showing the act) or circumstantial (e.g., eyewitness testimony that ties the defendant to the time and location where the rape occurred).
Rape cases, like other sex crimes, can be tough to prove. That’s because there’s often a lack of direct evidence. This might be due to the fact that:
- Rape victims are often fearful or hesitant to report attacks right away
- Rape victims might shower, do laundry, or engage in other acts that destroy or damage evidence, or
- There is no direct evidence.
As a result, a lot of rape cases boil down to “he said, she said” issues. There’s the alleged victim’s word against that of the accused. If this happens, credibility is often key. How credible are the accuser’s claims? Has the accuser’s story changed over time? Have details remained consistent? What about the alleged rapist? Has their story changed over time?
When there’s a lack of direct evidence, both the prosecution and defense counsel will work hard to find circumstantial evidence to support their side of the story.
What’s the Penalty for Rape in California?
Few crimes are taken more seriously than rape. In California, rape is always a felony. The punishment for a conviction depends on the details of the offense. Generally speaking, pursuant to Penal Code Section 264 PC, rape can result in 3, 6 or 8 years in a California state prison.
Sentences can be aggravated when:
- The victim is between the ages of 14 and 17 (7, 9, or 11 years behind bars)
- The victim is under the age of 14 (9, 11, or 13 years behind bars), or
- The defendant raped the victim with the aid of another person.
Penalties will tend to be more severe when the defendant has a history of criminal behavior and/or when the victim sustains a severe bodily injury.
In addition to imprisonment, fines, and other criminal sanctions, a rape conviction will also require a defendant to register as a Tier Three sex offender with the state of California. Failure to register as a sex offender is a crime in and of itself, also carrying harsh penalties.