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A Florida Uber driver was arrested last week for sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, police said.
Shapsly Bony Silencieux, 37, is accused of raping the young tourist after he picked her up outside a college bar on Saturday.
That night, the woman, who has not been publicly identified, ordered an Uber after spending an evening at an outdoor lounge with friends, according to investigators.
“She’s in town from Alabama visiting her friends who lived in our city,” Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw of the Fort Lauderdale Police told Oxygen.com. “At some point, she loses sight of her friends, can’t find them, can’t get in touch with them.”
The woman then reportedly entered Silencieux’s vehicle, after mistaking him for her driver. Silencieux’s vehicle reportedly matched the white Infiniti she’d hailed on the Uber app.
“She orders an Uber via her app and it says on the app, it tells her a white car,” Greenlaw explained. “She walks up to that vehicle. The suspect is in that vehicle as the driver and sole occupant and she says to him, ‘Are you my Uber?’ And he says, ‘Yes.’ She gets into the vehicle without checking the tag on the app versus his vehicle license plate.”
Silencieux, who is a driver for Uber but wasn’t on the clock with the rideshare app at the time of the incident, repeatedly assured the young woman he was the driver who'd responded to her request, police said.
After the trip began, however, the woman received an Uber notification and a bill for a canceled trip. She quickly became suspicious of the driver and confronted him.
“You aren’t My Uber?” the woman asked Silencieux, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
Silencieux then allegedly replied, “I’m driving you home.”
He then claimed he needed to retrieve his wallet from his apartment, police said.
Silencieux then drove to his building and allegedly invited her inside. He claimed he lived with his family. While he searched for his wallet, the woman sat and waited on the seat of a tricycle near the entrance. She told investigators “kids toys” were scattered throughout Silenciuex’s home, and that before departing, she used the home's restroom. Moments later, as detectives said, she was sexually assaulted.
“Silencieux pulled the victim onto the bed and tried taking the victim’s pants off but she kicked him,” the probable cause statement said. “While attempting to unbutton her pants, Silencieux put his hands inside the victim’s underwear.”
Silencieux then straddled the woman, pinning her to the bed with his knees while he removed his pants, police said. He then allegedly forced her to give him oral sex for 10 minutes. The woman, who openly sobbed through the attack, ultimately “bit him in the penis.”
“She was forcefully trying to get him off of her,” Greenlaw said. “She could not overpower him. Then she started crying out of what was happening to her and frustrated that she couldn’t break free and that’s when he stopped."
The woman told detectives Silencieux apologized “multiple times,” gave her a pair of sunglasses, briefly snatched her phone, and then dropped her off in Bal Harbor.
“It is terrifying to know that something like this could happen to someone who is innocently trying to be responsible, not drive after being out,” Greenlaw said. “It’s a horrible situation.”
The alleged victim memorized Silencieux’s license plate and reported him to authorities, they said. Police later matched the tags to a white 2014 Infiniti registered in Silencieux's name. She later positively identified him in a photo line-up.
Silencieux was booked into a Broward County detention center on March 14, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com.
Uber confirmed that Silencieux was a driver for the company at the time of the incident. He’s since been terminated. A spokesperson for the rideshare company maintained that Silencieux wasn’t actively using the app when the alleged sexual assault occurred.
“Everyone has the right to travel safely and our thoughts are with the victim after this horrific experience,” Uber said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “While this trip did not take place on the Uber app, we immediately removed the driver’s access to the app as soon as this was reported to us.”
Uber added that Silencieux had “no previous incidents of this nature.”
It’s unclear if Silencieux has retained legal representation.
Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting passengers in recent years. The two companies announced last week they’d partnered to share data involving drivers that have been removed from their platforms as a preventive safety measure.
“We will be sharing this driver’s information as part of this comprehensive process to share the names of drivers deactivated for the most serious safety incidents, like sexual assault and fatal physical assaults, with our ridesharing peers,” Uber added.
Uber has deactivated upwards of 40,000 drivers in the U.S. since deploying automated surveillance technology, according to a Safety Report published by the rideshare giant in 2019. The company conducts annual background checks and has also ushered in safety features, such as its “emergency button.” A number of critics, including public officials and victims, say the measures fall short, and in some cases, have accused Uber of silencing victims.
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