Crime & Justice

Uber driver arrested for allegedly kidnapping woman in West LA

File: The transportation app Uber matches ride-seekers with drivers.
File: The transportation app Uber matches ride-seekers with drivers.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters /Landov

A woman who received a ride from an Uber rideshare driver after bar hopping in West Los Angeles woke up in a cheap motel with the driver, who was arrested for kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The woman, 26, called police from a 7-Eleven Monday morning and told them she'd just left a motel room in Panorama City where a shirtless man she didn't know was lying next to her, police said in a release. She said she didn't remember how she got there.

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The woman's last stop the night before had been the Graystone Manor nightclub, according to police, who think the driver, Frederick Dencer, 32, may have been asked by a nightclub worker to take her home. The assignment wasn't an official Uber assignment, and the victim was too drunk to tell the driver her address, according to police.

"It looks like Dencer took advantage of the situation, and drove her to a cheap motel, which he had visited before, and carried her into the room,” said Mission Detective Division Lt. Paul Vernon. “He slept the night in the room, and when she awoke, he let her leave, though he asked her to stay, according to the victim.”

Dencer was still in the room when police arrived, according to the release.

"Dencer answered questions but his story didn't make sense," Vernon said. “Once the officers watched video from the motel, they realized the victim was carried into the motel, and that didn’t [jibe] with Dencer’s several stories.”

Dencer's bail was set at $1 million. It's his first arrest, according to police.

"It looks like he made a rash decision to take advantage of a vulnerable woman, and he’s not the first man to try that," Vernon said. "The irony is, the victim was trying to be responsible by calling for a ride, but she unwittingly put herself in another vulnerable situation. Hopefully, others will learn from this, and thankfully she was not assaulted or injured."

Uber issued a statement on the alleged kidnapping, asserting that since the driver wasn't logged in, the incident may not be Uber-related:

"Uber became aware this afternoon of a serious incident in Los Angeles. 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. We have reached out to authorities and will work with them to help uncover the facts. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following any serious allegations, which we have done. Nothing is more important to Uber than the safety of our riders."

This story has been updated.