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Florida Uber Driver with Extensive Criminal History Accused of Sexual Assault on Passenger Celebrating 21st Birthday

In December 2021, a young woman’s life took a tragic turn as she celebrated her upcoming 21st birthday in Tampa, Florida. Having recently moved to the area from Wisconsin for college, she found herself in a vulnerable situation after becoming intoxicated while partying at Tangra Nightclub downtown. Separated from her friends and in no condition to arrange a safe ride home, a Good Samaritan came to her aid by ordering an Uber on her behalf.

This Good Samaritan later revealed to law enforcement that she had serious concerns about the young woman’s ability to secure transportation due to her intoxicated state. Little did she know that the Uber driver dispatched to pick her up, a 42-year-old named Anthony Oliveras-Rivera, had a lengthy criminal history.

Oliveras-Rivera allegedly picked up the victim at 10 p.m., but instead of a quick journey to the Barrymore hotel downtown where she was staying with friends, he extended the ride until 2 a.m., taking her to Odessa, Florida, and allegedly subjecting her to sexual assault during this time. The victim, who was either asleep or incapacitated during the assault, recalls waking up briefly to a horrifying situation.

After the alleged assault, Oliveras-Rivera dropped off the victim at the hotel, where she was discovered in a disoriented state. She was barely able to walk, had difficulty speaking, and had unfortunately urinated on herself. Seeking assistance, the Uber driver told hotel staff, “I need your help; I have a girl passed out in my backseat,” and asked for paper towels.

Upon being brought into the hotel, the victim informed staff about the alleged assault, leading to her transportation to a nearby hospital. There, medical professionals conducted a sexual assault examination, which revealed male DNA. Subsequent testing confirmed that the DNA matched that of Oliveras-Rivera. Furthermore, the suspect reportedly admitted to having sexual intercourse with his passenger, according to the victim’s attorney.

Anthony Oliveras-Rivera is currently facing three sexual battery charges, with a judge setting his bond at $45,000. His criminal history includes prior convictions in Puerto Rico, where he served eight years in prison in the late 1990s. He also has convictions in New York for narcotics possession, robbery, and burglary in the early 2000s. In one notable 2001 burglary case, he and two others were found guilty of a violent home invasion.

His past infractions also include driving-related offenses such as lacking a valid driver’s license, speeding, running stop signs, and careless driving, leading to multiple license suspensions.

The victim’s attorney expressed the young woman’s horror and shock upon discovering Oliveras-Rivera’s criminal background, emphasizing the alarming notion that Uber, or any similar service, would knowingly hire an individual with such a history. She urged caution to all ride-sharing users, especially those relying on Uber.

It remains unclear how Oliveras-Rivera managed to become an Uber driver, as the ride-sharing platform explicitly disqualifies applicants with criminal records according to its website. Florida state law further restricts individuals with felony convictions from the past five years from becoming drivers. Uber declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

Uber collaborates with third-party background check providers, including Checkr, HireRight, Inc., and Samba Safety, which are nationally recognized for their background screening services, as stated by the ride-sharing platform.

According to Uber’s official website, every individual who chooses to drive for Uber undergoes a comprehensive screening process before their first trip. Furthermore, Uber regularly reevaluates and updates these driver screenings annually, employing advanced technology to proactively identify any potential issues that may arise in the interim. This commitment is an integral part of our ongoing efforts to ensure passenger safety when using Uber’s ride-hailing services.

However, the lawsuit contends that despite Uber’s assurances and dedication to screening its drivers, the company knowingly decided to hire a convicted felon, Anthony Oliveras-Rivera, who had previously served time in prison for his involvement in an armed robbery. Even after his release, Oliveras-Rivera continued to engage in unlawful activities that should have raised red flags for Uber, indicating that he posed a potential risk to passengers, including the victim in this particular case.

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