A driver with the popular ride-sharing service Uber has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a drunk woman and taking her to a hotel for the purpose of sexual assault, Los Angeles police said Tuesday.
Police said a valet employee asked Frederick Dencer, 32, of Encino to drive the 26-year-old woman home from a popular West Hollywood nightclub.
Instead, Dencer "took advantage of the situation," Lt. Paul Vernon said in a statement. Dencer reportedly drove the woman to the Panorama Motel in Van Nuys, carried her into a room and slept with her that night, Vernon said.
She woke up about 6 a.m. to find Dencer, who was shirtless, reportedly lying next to her on a motel bed. Dencer put his hand on the woman to suggest sexual activity, but she rebuffed his advances, Vernon said.
The woman did not know Dencer and could not recall how she ended up in the motel room. Dencer asked her to stay, but she left and called police from a 7-Eleven in Panorama City, Vernon said.
She told police she had been bar-hopping the night before and may have used Uber to get home. The woman reportedly has an account with the service.
But Vernon said police discovered that her phone was dead and that she did not call Uber. She led police to the hotel room, where they found Dencer. He talked to officers, but Vernon said his story did not make sense.
Soon after, officers reviewed surveillance video showing Dencer helping the woman get out of his car, holding her hand as she struggled to walk and then eventually carrying her into the hotel room, Vernon said.
The woman was reportedly too drunk to tell Dencer where she lived, so he never collected a fare from her and drove to the motel, Vernon said.
Dencer was taken into custody on suspicion of kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault. His bail was set at $1 million.
Uber officials became aware of Dencer’s arrest Tuesday and suspended his account, according to a statement issued by the company.
“The facts are unknown at this stage and it's certainly unclear that this is an Uber-related incident, as the driver in question was not logged in, connected to or operating on the platform at the time,” Uber officials said in the statement.
They said they contacted authorities and planned to work with them.
“Nothing is more important to Uber than the safety of our riders,” they said in the statement.
Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Nicole Kittle of LAPD's Mission Sex Unit at (818) 838-9975. To remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477.