Uber driver charged with raping California woman in car

Angel Sanchez, 36, a driver for Uber, accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in his vehicle while she was under the influence of alcohol is shown in this Santa Ana, California, U.S. Police Department photo released on April 26, 2017. Courtesy Santa Ana Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An Uber driver accused by prosecutors of having sexually assaulted a female passenger after she sought a ride home from a gathering in the upscale seaside city of Newport Beach, California, was charged with rape on Wednesday.

Angel Sanchez, 36, was arrested a day after the March 30 attack, which took place on a street near the woman’s home in Santa Ana, California. The victim in the case was not identified by authorities.

Sanchez, who is scheduled for an initial court appearance in the case next week, faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison if convicted.

“Nobody should go through what this rider reported to police. We worked with law enforcement on the investigation and will continue to work with authorities,” an Uber [UBER.UL] spokesman said. Sanchez has been banned from driving for Uber.

Prosecutors say the woman had been attending a company gathering in Newport Beach and her colleagues requested an Uber ride to take her home. They added Sanchez drove the victim to Santa Ana before sexually assaulting her.

Following the attack, the woman ran from Sanchez’ minivan and immediately called 911, prosecutors said.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler