A Los Angeles-based Lyft driver pleaded not guilty in court on Friday after he was charged with raping and kidnapping a woman.
Authorities charged Octavio Alvarez Gomez, 38, with one count of kidnapping to commit rape and one count of rape of an unconscious person, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Gomez allegedly picked up the woman from a local bar after she ordered a Lyft to take her home at 10 p.m. on October 2, 2018.
Instead of taking her to her final destination, Gomez allegedly drove his vehicle far from the destination to a secluded area and allegedly raped her while she was unconscious, prosecutors said.
KTLA reported that the victim informed the Los Angeles Police Department about the incident. Detectives identified Gomez as a suspect and kept tabs on him while he was still working for Lyft before they took him into custody on September 13.
Lyft said in a statement that it fired the driver and “assisted law enforcement with their investigation”:
As soon as we received this information we deactivated the driver and assisted law enforcement with their investigation. Safety is fundamental to Lyft and we don’t take lightly any instances where someone’s safety is compromised. We continue to invest heavily in safety and welcome accountability and partnership to best protect our rider and driver community.
Gomez remains in custody on a $1.1 million bond. If convicted, Gomez faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
The ridesharing company Lyft was recently hit with a nationwide lawsuit from 14 women who claim they were sexually assaulted or raped by their drivers. The suit alleges that the company mishandled complaints of sexual assault, rape, and misconduct against drivers while the citizens — who remain anonymous — were using its services.