Uber, Lyft drivers accused of sexually assaulting passengers in Boulder

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BOULDER, Colo. — An Uber driver was arrested Thursday and accused of sexually assaulting a woman he drove home in February 2019.

Mark Saunders, 41, is facing sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact charges.

An affidavit obtained by FOX31 said the victim called Boulder police on Feb. 15, 2019.

She told police that the night before, she blacked out after drinking three shots of tequila and three beers. She said she recalled being in a dreamlike state and seeing a man’s face above hers.

The woman told police she woke up the next morning — Feb. 15 — wearing only a shirt.

She went through her phone and realized she ordered an Uber to go home on the night of 14.

The woman told police she believed the man who was on top of her was the same as the man whose picture was in the Uber app as her driver, Mark Saunders.

Police said records confirm the woman’s driver that night was indeed Saunders.

Plus, the woman’s roommate told police he saw a man matching Saunders’ description inside their home on the night of the alleged assault.

The woman went through a sexual assault examination and the affidavit said male DNA was discovered.

Months later — in November 2019 — Boulder police said that male DNA matched Saunders’ DNA that was obtained from a Florida law enforcement database.

He was arrested on burglary with assault or battery attempt charges in Miami in 2013 and gave the DNA sample. Those charges were later dropped.

The affidavit states that in text messages with the victim after the alleged assault, Saunders wrote that the victim invited him in and that they didn’t, “have intercourse or anything…we just made out.”

Uber told FOX31 it’s looking into Saunders’ arrest and the alleged incident.

A spokesperson said in a statement, “What’s been described is horrible and something no one should ever go through. We’re working with law enforcement to support their investigation and continue to look into the incident. The driver no longer has access to the Uber app.”

Last December, Uber released a safety report and admitted that it received 5,981 reports of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018.

Saunders’ arrest happened just more than a week after a Lyft driver was arrested in Boulder on similar charges.

Boulder police arrested Tigistu Belete Ergo, 27, on Christmas Eve. He’s now facing kidnapping and sexual assault charges.

When asked about Ergo, a Lyft spokesperson told FOX31, “Safety is fundamental to Lyft. The behavior described is unacceptable, and we have permanently removed the driver from the Lyft community. We have been in contact with law enforcement and will continue to help in every way we can.”