An 18-year-old Uber passenger has accused her driver of sexually assaulting her while she was “drunk and vulnerable”.
Speaking to A Current Affair on Wednesday night, Laura Mercer described her anger towards the company she used regularly and thought “seemed safe”.
Having taken many Ubers before, the Brisbane woman – who had been out drinking with friends for an 18th birthday – didn’t think much of ordering a ride home by herself after midnight.
“It was just normal. I got in and he was really friendly and I was quite drunk,” she told producers.
After being picked up on Eagle Street in the CBD, Laura says her first impression of the driver was good, and didn’t think much of his offer to switch the app off after travelling 600 metres to drive her home “for free”.
"I just thought he was being really friendly, and he just kept saying I was pretty and he was doing a music video and I looked like a model," she said, adding: "He said he wanted to take photos of me, but he did it on my phone, so it seemed innocent at the time."
The teen alleges things changed when the driver asked her to get out of the Uber, and proceeded to pull her top down. Then, she says, he assaulted her.
"He came over and he started forcing it down and taking photos and forcing himself on me and touching me. He moved my underwear aside and started touching me.
"He was trying to kiss me and my mouth was closed and I was crying and pulling away. He just kept going and he was rubbing himself on me."
Laura says she managed to pull away from the driver before running home and phoning police.
While she spoke to officers about the alleged attack, Laura says she couldn't bring herself to file a formal report.
"They came over and I went through it with them, but at the time I just didn't want to talk about it, I didn't ever want to talk about it again, I just wanted to forget about it."
The next morning, Georgia reported the ordeal to Uber, who she says did little other than refund the $11 cost of the trip. It's something her representative from Shine Lawyers, Lisa Flynn, says isn't enough.
'Uber has a duty of care to their customers, and they failed to fulfil that,' Lisa says, adding that further safety measures such as the installation of internal CCTV cameras would better ensure passenger safety.
In response to the report, the company provided this statement to Channel Nine:
"The safety of our riders and driver-partners is a top priority.
If we are made aware of an incident, we take appropriate action in the best interests of riders and drivers."
But for Laura, the damage has already been done.
"He just made me feel like my body wasn't my body anymore, and that's not okay. No one has the right to make anyone feel like that."
Do you feel safer in Ubers, or taxis? Let us know in the comments below.