Oregon Uber Driver Locked Passenger in His Car, Raped Her, Police Say

An Uber driver in Oregon is facing multiple criminal charges after allegedly locking a female passenger inside his car and sexually assaulting her, police say.

Antonio Gonzalez-Salinas, 51, was detained by Medford Police detectives on Tuesday after the 21-year-old victim, who is not being named, contacted officers in the early hours of February 9 to report an assault that allegedly occurred as she was being driven to a friend's house.

According to police, the victim was found after family members tracked her phone and discovered her "upset and crying."

Investigators determined Gonzalez-Salinas picked the woman up from downtown Medford after she had been out drinking with friends into Sunday morning.

The woman's friends called for an Uber to take the victim to a residence in East Medford.

The suspect had arrived in a black Lexus at approximately 1:30 a.m., but police said the friends of the victim became increasingly concerned upon learning she had not arrived at the destination. Multiple attempts to phone the 21-year-old failed after calls were "hung up several times."

Police said Gonzalez-Salinas eventually answered the phone and claimed he had been having trouble finding the address. But additional attempts to contact the woman failed, causing the friend to contact a relative of the woman, who was able to track the location of the phone.

Just before 2:10 a.m., the device pinged about two blocks from the destination. About 20 minutes later, the relative and two friends arrived at the location and saw the Uber driver parked on the street. They recovered the victim from the passenger seat and the driver left the scene.

Officials said detectives assigned to the case after it was reported determined the driver had been "repeatedly locking the doors as he was sexually assaulting her."

Gonzalez-Salinas was arrested at his home in the 1900 block of Erin Way, Medford, at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The victim's phone was found inside his home and the car was seized.

He was charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sex abuse, first-degree attempted rape and harassment. The suspect was held at Jackson County Jail, with bail set at $360,000. Officials said he has a prior conviction for misdemeanor harassment, which was non-sexual.

Uber has been contacted for comment by Newsweek. In a statement to The Oregonian, a spokesperson said: "What has been described is awful and something no one should ever have to go through. We're cooperating with law enforcement to support their investigation."

Last December, the ride-hailing company confirmed 3,045 sexual assaults had taken place during its U.S. trips throughout 2018, compared to 2,936 the year prior.

"My heart is with every survivor of this all-too-pervasive crime. Our work will never be done, but we take an important step forward today," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted at the time.

Khosrowshahi added: "I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they're still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we've done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right."

Antonio Gonzalez-Salinas
Uber driver Antonio Gonzalez-Salinas, 51, was arrested on February 11 and is facing multiple assault charges, police said, releasing this mugshot to social media. Medford Police