Roanoke Uber driver charged with sexual battery of his rider
According to Roanoke County police, early last month a woman requested an Uber ride from here in downtown to take her to her home in the county. During that ride is when police say the woman was sexually battered by her driver, Thomas Jefferson Dyne.
Dyne has only been an Uber driver for a short time, according to the company.
But in that short time, he found himself in jail. He's been charged with the sexual battery of a young woman he picked up around 1:30 a.m. September 9.
According to court documents, officers say Dyne, who also goes by the name "Charles Denn," sexually battered the rider during the ride.
His bond was set at $10,000.
Dyne is out on bail, but has been ordered not to drive for hire, including Uber and Lyft.
Police officials said they would not share the full police report with the details of the incident. Dyne is due back in court in November. We reached out to his attorneys who have not responded to our request for comment.
We reached out to Uber and a spokesperson told WDBJ7 in a statement:
"What's been described is deplorable and something no one should ever have to go through. We removed the individual's access to the app as soon as we became aware of the allegations."
The spokesperson went on to say they are working with law enforcement and said Dyne had undergone a screening process that includes a driving and criminal background check.
The spokesperson added additional information about the steps the company is doing to increase safety measures, including enhancing the screening process.
The spokesperson listed those safety measures as follows:
• "Earlier this year, we announced we are adding new safety features and improvements including centralizing safety information in the app and an emergency button for 911 assistance.
• Several weeks ago, our CEO also announced several additional new safety features that will roll out in the coming months including ride check, address anonymization which will conceal specific pick-up and drop-off addresses in the driver’s trip history and two-factor authentication.
• For background on the driver screening process:
o All drivers must undergo a screening process before they can use the Uber app, which includes a driving and criminal history background check reviewing local, state and national records. This review process is completed by a third-party background check service that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.
o The results of the screening process are reviewed by an internal team, which evaluates eligibility in accordance with the criteria set by local laws.
o Several months ago, we announced that we are adding improvements to our screening process including re-running driving and criminal background screening annually and monitoring of new offense data.
• It’s important to note our approach to safety doesn’t begin and end with a background check. Through our technology, we also have safety features built into the app that were not possible before - every trip is GPS tracked, riders receive the name of the driver and license plate number when they request which is captured in the trip history, riders can share their trip in real time with friends and family, we have a two-way feedback system and 24-7 support.
• We regularly work with police on investigations. The process is outlined here.
• We also recently made an important change to our arbitration policy in the U.S. that gives victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment more choices, ensures they have the option to share their story, and raises the bar on transparency:
o We no longer require Uber riders, drivers or employees to arbitrate their individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
o We now give individuals an option to settle these claims with Uber without a confidentiality requirement covering the facts of their experience.
o We committed to publishing a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on the Uber platform."