A Tallmadge, Ohio Uber driver convicted of sexually assaulting a woman has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison, The Akron Beacon Journal reports.
“I’m not that guy,” Brandon Franklin, 34, told Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jay Wells. “I’m not who I was before you raped me,” the 22-year-old woman Franklin was convicted of raping responded. “I really loved her—and you took her away from me.”
The victim—which the Beacon Journal did not name since they don’t typically release the name of sexual assault victims—stated in court that she woke up to Franklin sexually assaulting her on the night of March 25, 2017, after he had driven her to her home in Akron. Upon waking, she said, she pushed him out of the room and ran away. She added that she doesn’t recall many details because she had been out drinking with friends.
Franklin, however, tells a different story, stating that the woman “came onto him” upon driving her to her home. According to him, she was “more buzzed than drunk.” Emanuel Makris, Franklin’s attorney, called the incident “a mistake on [Franklin’s] end,” adding that “it wasn’t like he was out to hurt anyone.”
While this incident marks the first time an Uber employee was charged with sexual assault in Summit County, it, unfortunately, isn’t the first time Uber drivers have been charged in other parts of the nation. A recent investigation found that at least 103 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assault and abuse since 2014. Of those drivers, 31 were convicted on charges including battery and rape. One of those victims says she was assaulted while drunk and passed out.
Uber recently added a panic feature to its app so that passengers can alert 911 in the case of emergency. “The first thing that we want to do is really change Uber’s substance, and the image may follow,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the Associated Press in April. “The announcements that we’re making are just a step along the way of making Uber fundamentally safer for drivers and riders.”
Franklin was found guilty on April 20 of sexual battery, which is a third-degree felony carrying a penalty of one to five years behind bars. However, prison time is not mandatory.