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Chicago court drops ‘sexual assault charges’ against Uber driver

April07/ 2015

NewYork,April 7: Cook County prosecutors dropped charges Monday against a former Uber X driver accused of sexually assaulting a passenger, telling a judge they were acting after new evidence came to light.

Maxime Fohounhedo, who has been in jail on $500,000 bail since his December arrest, was expected to be released later Monday. His attorney, Shady Yousif Yassin, said the new evidence was an approximately nine-minute recording his client made on his cellphone while driving the alleged victim home in November.

The woman, who told authorities she was lapsing in and out of consciousness, “was totally alert the whole time” and “engaged in what sounded like a friendly conversation about … her boyfriend and her work,” Yassin said.

“At the end, she gives him a big hug and a big kiss,” Yassin said. “That’s not somebody who’s in fear of her life.”

Yassin credited prosecutors for quickly dropping the charges after learning of the recording.

“Lord knows what would’ve been the outcome if the recording didn’t exist,” he said.

secutors spoke with the woman and told her about the recording before Monday’s hearing, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office said.

“She understood the decision and did not object to us going ahead and dismissing the charges,” Daly said.

Uber did not respond Monday to a request for comment. Officials at the popular ride-hailing service had previously said Fohounhedo was removed from the service when they learned of the assault accusation.

Prosecutors had said the woman was out with friends Nov. 16 when she used the Uber X app on her phone to arrange a ride to her home in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood around 3 a.m. The woman told authorities she fell asleep in Fohounhedo’s car, later waking to find him sexually assaulting her on his living room couch.

Fohounhedo’s wife, Sheena, said her husband broke down crying after she called him over the weekend to tell him the charges would be dropped Monday. She said she had called him every day since he had been locked up.

“He couldn’t even stay on the phone five minutes,” she said. “He said, ‘Babe, I have to go. I’ve got to pray and thank God because I’ve been in there for three months for something I didn’t do.'”

She and four of her husband’s friends — all part of the small community of Benin natives living in Chicago — had waited anxiously for Monday’s hearing to begin.

“I was nervous the whole time …” Sheena Fohounhedo said at the Leighton Criminal Court Building after the charges had been dropped. “I was shaking the whole time.”

Sheena Fohounhedo, who said she had to move back in with her mother to afford an attorney to fight the charges, expressed concern about the impact the criminal charges could have on her husband’s attempt to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Yassin said Fohounhedo might try to have the charge expunged.

Tags: #ChicagoCourt, #Uber, #UberCabs, #UberRapeCase