Uber driver arrested, accused of sexual assault

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

Rodolf Vjerdha, 59, was arrested at 4 p.m. Saturday in East Palo Alto after police spotted him in a burgundy 2014 Kia Optima that he was allegedly driving Friday evening.

That evening, Vjerdha allegedly picked up the victim after she was socializing with friends, according to police.

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

Allegedly, Vjerdha arrived in the 200 block of University Avenue to pick up the victim and told her to get in the front seat because he was expecting other passengers.

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

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

While he was driving the victim home, allegedly he locked the vehicle and touched the victim's leg several times.

The victim asked Vjerdha to stop the vehicle, but allegedly he didn't.

Once he was at the victim's home, he allegedly kissed her and asked her to let him into her apartment.

The victim turned down the request but she could not exit the vehicle because allegedly Vjerdha kept the doors locked.

After several attempts, she was able to get out, police said.

Police are looking into whether there are other victims.

Uber officials said the type of behavior Vjerdha allegedly exhibited is a clear violation of company guidelines, which prohibit drivers from inappropriate and sexual conduct.

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.