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Uber Driver Charged in Sexual Assault of Passenger in Azusa

The area of Azusa where an Uber driver is accused of inappropriately touching a passenger not assigned to him, on Aug. 23, 2018, is seen here. (Credit: Google Maps)

The area of Azusa where an Uber driver is accused of inappropriately touching a passenger not assigned to him, on Aug. 23, 2018, is seen here. (Credit: Google Maps)

Prosecutors have charged an Uber driver accused of inappropriately touching a passenger in Azusa, authorities announced Tuesday.

Luis Geraldo Pena, also known as Javier Martinez, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of sexual battery, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Pena, a 40-year-old Azusa resident, allegedly fondled a female passenger the morning of Aug. 23, according to Azusa police.

The victim had called an Uber ride in the 800 block of North Azusa Avenue and entered Pena’s car, investigators said. The woman noticed that the vehicle did not match the vehicle assigned to her by the ride-share service, but she assumed it was a simple mistake, according to police.

The driver then asked her inappropriate questions before reaching over and touching her, detectives said. She managed to fight him off and got out of the vehicle before reporting the incident.

The driver allegedly made a U-turn and sped off.

Police identified the perpetrator as Luis Gerardo Pena-Ayala, a man who drove for Uber but was not assigned to pick up the victim. Officers arrested him on Aug. 24.

Pena was scheduled to return to court on Sept. 26. If convicted as charged, he could face a maximum sentence of six months in jail.