Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting passenger in Wake County, sheriff says

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County’s sheriff announced the recent arrest of an Uber driver who is charged with sexually assaulting a passenger in May.

The assault occurred during the early morning hours of May 9 while Muhammad Arslan Afzal was traveling on Interstate-540 near Knightdale, Sheriff Gerald Baker announced.

An investigator said Afzal convinced the passenger to move to the front passenger seat to help with his GPS.

While she was in the front passenger seat, Afzal sexually assaulted the passenger and committed sex acts on himself, the investigator said. The assault lasted between 20-25 mins.

Muhammad Arslan Afzal (WCSO)

The victim used her phone to alert her family of the assault and they were waiting to help her when she arrived home.

Afzal, who lives in Clayton, was arrested July 19. He faces a series of charges including first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault, attempted second-degree forcible sex offense, and indecent exposure.

He was given a $250,000 bond.

When asked why it took more than two months for the suspect to be arrested and for the sheriff to discuss it publicly, Baker said the victim was hesitant to speak with investigators.

At the time of the media briefing, Baker said Uber had not been contacted about the arrest.

CBS 17’s Bridget Chapman reached out to Uber and received the following statement:

“What’s been described is horrifying. As soon as this was reported to us in May we banned the driver, and we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.”

An Uber spokesperson said all U.S. drivers undergo a Motor Vehicle Record review and a criminal history background check before their first trip.

Baker mentioned the 2019 death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson during the briefing.

Prosecutors said the University of South Carolina student got into Nathaniel Rowland’s car and was trapped because he had turned on the child locks in his backseat so the doors could only be opened from the outside.

She was found stabbed to death and Rowland is charged with her murder.

The sheriff advised anyone using a ride-sharing service to ride with another person since it’s a “shot in the dark” who the driver will be.

Baker said he had just planned on issuing a press release on the arrest but changed his mind when he looked at what is going on “in the country with transportation, Uber and escorts.”

The sheriff, who rarely offers media availabilities, said on Sunday that his office is not under investigation, to his knowledge.

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