Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting teen had been focus of previous complaints

Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting teen had been focus of previous complaints
Published: Apr. 20, 2016 at 9:13 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 21, 2016 at 3:46 AM HST
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Graphic: Hawaii News Now
Graphic: Hawaii News Now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Uber driver who's accused of sexually assaulting a teenage passenger Saturday had two complaints filed against him earlier this month by another passenger who says the driver made her feel uncomfortable and then tried to meet up with her.

Police arrested Luke Wadahara, 24, on Sunday, after a 16-year-old victim alleged she had been sexually assaulted during an Uber ride on Saturday night.

The victim told police that she ordered an Uber ride at the Ala Moana Shopping Center, and her and her friends got picked up.

Wadahara allegedly dropped off her friends in Mililani, then headed toward Makiki to drop off the victim. But instead of taking her home, Wadahara allegedly made several wrong turns. He then pulled over and allegedly attacked her. She said she eventually fought him off, then ran home.

The 28-year-old woman who made the previous complaints against Wadahara rode with him on April 6. She said the ride only lasted five minutes, but he made her so uncomfortable she contacted Uber to file a complaint.

She said even before she got into his car, she felt like there was something off.

"I got picked up from Aloha Tower after a work event. He was driving me home," said the woman, whose identity Hawaii News Now is protecting.

The woman said she considered canceling the Uber when she saw that Wadahara's black Dodge Charger had vanity license plates that read "SEXI."

"I knew he was weird. You know, socially awkward. Told me how he makes all this money. He has all these businesses," the woman said. "I asked if he was just driving Uber for fun. He said he uses it to network and also maybe to meet his future wife. And (then he) kind of turned around completely and looked at me."

Wadahara then slipped the woman his business card "and said something creepy along the lines of, give me a call if you want a partner in crime or someone to drink with."

When the woman got to her destination, Wadahara stopped the car and turned off the engine and "lingered, kind of, when he got to my apartment."

She emailed Uber a couple days later, complaining that Wadahara was unprofessional and had made her feel uncomfortable. A company representative apologized, refunded her fare and blocked the driver from matching with her in the future.

But that wasn't enough to keep him away.

On Friday, the woman said, Wadahara contacted her through the Uber app to say she'd left something in his car. She knew it was a lie.

"I freaked out. I immediately emailed Uber back," the woman said.

Those reports didn't get Wadahara taken off the road. The very next day, he allegedly assaulted the 16-year-old passenger.

"I think Uber should have done more when I made the complaint for the second time," the woman said. "At least because the follow-up from him definitely showed there is a little more going on in his head than just being socially awkward."

Hawaii News Now asked Uber officials why Wadahara wasn't suspended, and what kind of behavior gets a driver taken off the road.

Officials didn't answer the questions.

Uber spokesman Taylor Patterson said in a statement, "We are deeply saddened by this assault and we are urgently investigating exactly what happened. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family."

Wadahara doesn't have a criminal record. He was recently let go from DTRIC Insurance for an unrelated personnel issue.

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