SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — An Uber driver was arrested Wednesday after allegedly attacking a woman who was riding as a passenger in his car.
Jason Rodas, 30, is being held on $1 million bail and charged with several sexual assault charges including kidnapping with the intent to commit rape after a woman says he tried to violently attack and rape her during her Uber ride Wednesday morning.
The 51-year-old woman said she hailed an Uber around 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to go to work. Shortly after getting into the car, she said Rodas started asking her about her sex life.
She said Rodas then turned off the Uber app and told her the ride was free. When she asked him to take her to work, he began driving erratically and threatened to throw her out if she called 911, she told police.
Authorities said Rodas, who is a Garden Grove resident, drove the woman to the intersection of Pine St. and Minnie St.
The woman tried to run, but Rodas placed the victim in a “choke hold” and strangled her before sexually assaulting her, police said.
A security guard at a nearby business heard her screams and ran over to help, according to police. Rodas took off.
“She’s lucky,” said Brian Ruiz, who lives in the area. “Once it gets dark, you start seeing a bunch of people just come out — random people come out of their hiding spots. If the suspect would have not done anything to her…then someone else could have probably done something to her.”
Detectives said they used security tape, the license plate of the vehicle, and the driver’s name on the Uber app to find Rodas.
Court records show Rodas has a criminal history, including domestic violence with a restraining order against him.
“What’s been described is horrific and something no one should have to experience,” Uber said in a statement. “We stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement and appreciate their swift investigation.”
Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said detectives are concerned there may be more victims.
“This individual was brazen in his act,” he said. “I mean, he chased her. He choked her out to where she passed out.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Julio Gallardo at 714-245-8378 or gallardo@santa–ana.org or call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.