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Antonio Ochoa Arrested on Suspicion of Sexually Assaulting Rideshare Passenger

Rideshare Driver Identified As Antonio Ochoa Arrested After Allegedly Sexually Assaulting Female In San Bernardino County While Brandishing Firearm

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA (February 9, 2024) – An Inland Empire rideshare driver identified as Antonio Ochoa has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting female passenger in San Bernardino County.

San Bernardino County officials are saying that the incident took place early January. Antonio Ochoa is accused of sexually assaulting a 37-year-old female rideshare passenger.

At some point during the encounter, the suspect is accused of brandishing a firearm to continue the sexual assault. The victim was eventually able to escape.

Antonio Ochoa reportedly fled to Mexico but was captured by California Highway Patrol after re-entering the United States. It remains unclear if the defendant worked for Uber or Lyft.

A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.

Liability For Lyft and Uber Sexual Assaults

Sexual assaults involving rideshare drivers are unfortunately all too common. According to NBC News, “Uber reported 141 incidents of rape and 998 incidents of sexual assault overall in 2020, even as the business was crippled by the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and ridership plummeted, according [to] the company’s 2019-2020 U.S. Safety Report released Thursday.” There are a number of measures that rideshare companies can take in order to prevent riders from being sexually assaulted.

  • Uber and Lyft should implement strict background checks on all potential drivers.
  • Uber and Lyft drivers should undergo training with respect to appropriate behavior towards passengers.
  • Uber and Lyft should provide passengers with safety features such as emergency assistance buttons.
  • Uber and Lyft should have a zero tolerance policy for any type of harassment, assault or inappropriate behavior.

Companies like Lyft and Uber can face liability if one of their passengers is sexually assaulted. In fact, Uber is facing a class-action lawsuit against people who were victims of sexual assault by their drivers. Both Uber and Lyft have a legal obligation to protect their passengers from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm. This includes taking measures to ensure that violent criminals are not working as drivers. It also includes taking action and investigating instances where drivers are accused of misconduct.

Many of the lawsuits against Uber and Lyft allege the rideshare companies negligently hired or retained the drivers accused of assaults. There are several elements that must be demonstrated in any claim alleging negligent hiring or retention. (1) The driver was unfit to safely transport passengers or posed an unreasonable danger to them. (2) The rideshare company knew or should have known about the danger. (3) The unfitness of the driver caused harm to the victim. (4) The rideshare company’s hiring decisions was a substantial factor in causing the harm. It is important that certain steps are taken after any instance of suspected assault.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • A police report of the incident should be created.
  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • An experienced rideshare sexual assault attorney should be contacted.

Sexual assaults are one of the most harmful and damaging experiences that people can go through. These assaults have long-term implications for a person’s physical and mental health. Many of the  rideshare assaults that have taken place were preventable. Part of the problem is that companies like Uber and Lyft have knowingly made safety compromises like relying on less thorough and cheaper background checks. Any person that is injured by a rideshare driver may have legal recourse through a civil claim.

Investigating Lyft and Uber Sexual Assaults

We at the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our deepest sympathies to the victim of Antonio Ochoa. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the possibility that there may have been other unreported incidents. The vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported. Justice and accountability are desperately needed in this situation.

Have you or someone that you care about been harmed by an Uber or Lyft driver? You may have legal recourse. Our team of Lyft sexual assault lawyers and Uber sexual assault lawyers are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that victims are aware of their rights and that rideshare companies are held to account for their practices. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 626-799-9375.

Author

MICHAEL S. CARRILLO, Partner

Michael works on high-profile cases that have garnered national media attention. His practice today focuses on child sexual abuse cases, police misconduct cases, catastrophic injuries and other wrongful death matters. He is a passionate advocate for his clients including the countless child sexual abuse victims he currently represents.