An Uber driver was charged in court on Thursday with raping a 16-year-old girl last month.
Darnell Booth, 34, of Dorchester, was arraigned Thursday in Malden District Court and is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for August 15.
On June 30, Booth picked up the teenage girl while working as an Uber driver. During that ride, Booth flirted with her, the girl told authorities, according to The Boston Globe.
At approximately 11 p.m. on July 4, the girl said that she received a Snapchat from Booth, saying he was outside of her home and asking her to come out of her house, according to a statement from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
The next day, the girl was running late and missed her bus for a summer school program, the Globe reports. Booth then allegedly sent her a message through Snapchat asking if she needed a ride. She accepted.
During the ride, Booth allegedly drove her to a secluded location and parked the car. Her ordered her to take her clothes off, and when she refused, he slapped her in the face, prosecutors said, according to the Globe. He then raped her, they said.
The incident is calling into question Uber’s responsibility to protect passengers by screening employees.
“After understanding some of the details in this case I am concerned that not enough is being done to properly screen drivers,” Everett Chief of Police Steven Mazzie said in a statement. “The public should use caution when using these ride sharing programs.”
District Attorney Marian Ryan commended the Everett Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab for aiding in the investigation, and echoes Mazzie’s concerns.
“The defendant in this case allegedly took advantage of a young woman who trusted him in his professional capacity as an Uber driver,” Ryan said in a statement. “Even with increased screening in place under the new law, it is critical that consumers continue to use caution when employing these services.”