Uber driver arrested on suspicion of sexual assault

A Redwood City-based Uber driver was arrested Saturday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female passenger as he was giving her a ride home Friday evening from Palo Alto, police said.

Rodolf Vjerdha, 59, was arrested at 4 p.m. in East Palo Alto after police saw him in a burgundy 2014 Kia Optima that he was believed to have been driving Friday evening.

That evening, the victim was socializing with friends in Palo Alto when she a requested a ride using the Uber app, according to police.

She opted to use Uber Pool, which would allow her to share the ride with other passengers.

Police said Vjerdha arrived in the 200 block of University Avenue and picked up the victim. Vjerdha told the victim to get in the front seat because he was expecting other passengers.

She did not want to ride in the front but finally did so, police said.

When she got in, Vjerdha allegedly called the other prospective riders to tell them he could not pick them up because they were in the opposite direction from where he was going.

While he was driving the victim home, he locked the vehicle and touched the victim’s leg several times, police said. The victim asked Vjerdha to stop the vehicle, but he allegedly continued to drive.

Once he was at the victim’s home, he kissed her and asked her to let him into her apartment, police said.

The victim turned down his request and she could not exit the vehicle because the driver kept the doors locked.

After several attempts, he opened the doors, police said.

Police are looking into whether there are other victims.

Anyone with more information about the incident can get in touch with the East Palo Alto Police Department anonymously at epa@tipnow.org or by text of voicemail at (650) 409-6792.

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