A 37-year-old Uber driver was arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a female passenger in Orange County, and Santa Ana police believe there ought to be more victims who have not come forward.
Angel Sanchez was arrested Saturday at his Costa Mesa home on suspicion of sexual assault, which police said took place during a Thursday night near the victim’s home in Santa Ana.
The unidentified woman requested the Uber ride to her house and was picked up by Sanchez in a gray 2016 Toyota Sienna. Santa Ana police said the assault took place inside the van near the victim’s destination after the driver pulled over to a side street.
“She had fallen asleep and woke up being sexually assaulted,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna with Santa Ana police. “She was able to fight and break free and immediately called us.”
The local authorities effectively worked with Uber to determine who the driver was and detained Sanchez at his Costa Mesa home a few days after the attack, police reports said.
Sanchez had been working as an Uber driver for about a year at the time of the assault, according to officials.
Uber released a statement to Eyewitness News saying Sanchez has been banned from the ride-share service.
“What the rider has reported to police is deeply troubling and will not be tolerated. The driver has been banned from the app. We will continue to support police with their investigation,” the statement read.
The suspect was booked into the Santa Ana PD Jail on sexual assault charges and was being held on $100,000 bail. Sanches also faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison if convicted. His arraignment is scheduled for May 1 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Santa Ana police detectives believe this may not be the first time Sanchez has targeted a passenger. Anyone who has witnessed inappropriate behavior by Sanchez was urged to call (714) 245-8412.