Police: Off-duty Uber driver kidnapped drunk woman outside nightclub
LOS ANGELES, Calif — An Encino man who drives for the ride-sharing company Uber has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a woman with the intention of sexually assaulting her, police said Tuesday.
KTLA-TV reported Frederick Dencer, 32, was booked Monday after officers found him in a Van Nuys motel room, according to an LAPD news release. He is accused of taking an intoxicated 26-year-old woman to the location after picking her up Sunday night at a West Hollywood nightclub.
The woman called 911 from a Panorama City convenience store after waking up next to the man, who was shirtless, and leaving the motel, the release said. She was not injured.
Although Dencer had at least one Uber fare on Sunday night, the woman did not use the mobile app to request a ride at Greystone Manor, located at 643 La Cienega Blvd., police said.
Investigators believe Dencer had been hanging out at the club after another fare and was solicited by a valet to take the victim home, the release said.
“Had this been an official Uber assignment, Dencer would have received the victim’s home address with the fare, but in this case [she] was too drunk to tell him,” the LAPD statement said.
The suspect apparently “took advantage of the situation and drove her to a cheap motel, which he had visited before, and carried her into the room,” said Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department. “He slept right in the room. When she awoke, he let her leave, though he asked her to stay, according to the victim.”
The woman, whose name has not been released, called police from a 7-Eleven at 6 a.m. She told police that she did not know the suspect, nor did she remember how she had arrived at the motel.
After interviewing the woman, officers determined that she had been bar-hopping the night before, police said. She directed the officers to the Panorama Motel, where they found Dencer in the room he had checked into.
He was questioned, but “his story didn’t make any sense,” Vernon said.
The officers then watched surveillance video that showed the victim being carried into the motel, according to the Police Department.
Based on the circumstances and the video, Dencer was booked for kidnap for the purpose of sexual assault, authorities said. His bail was set at $1 million.
“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,” he added.
In a later interview, Vernon said the woman had not used Uber to summon a car to the nightclub.
“Uber became aware this afternoon of a serious incident in Los Angeles,” the ride-sharing company said in a statement Tuesday. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”