By Seth Daniel
Everett Police arrested a Malden man who drives for Uber on Sunday, Aug. 28, and charged him with lewd acts after he allegedly exposed himself several times over a period of weeks to an Everett woman.
The man turns out to also have an open case in Boston for allegedly committing the same lewd acts in downtown Boston.
All of this has several Everett officials – for the second time in a month – asking how such a driver was allowed to work in private transportation after being alleged to have committed such crimes.
It struck such a chord that Mayor Carlo DeMaria issued a letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Monday asking for a meeting with the company to address the security of its drivers.
“Within the past several weeks, we as a community have experienced two extremely disturbing incidents relative to Uber drivers who should never have been allowed the opportunity to drive for your company,” wrote Mayor DeMaria. “In the first incident earlier this month, an Uber driver was arrested and charged with the rape of a teenaged girl. He had an extensive criminal record. In the second incident…an Uber driver was arrested on several counts of lewd and lascivious and open and gross behavior after a teenaged girl reported him to police. He had several open cases of a similar nature…It’s clear to me the current driver screening system is simply not working, and recent ride-share legislation passed here in Massachusetts will not be implemented for several months.”
DeMaria suggested that he would like to use the City’s Public Safety resources to partner with Uber to create a potential licensing process in the City.
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who is a vocal critic of ride sharing services in regards to their safety procedures, said this week it’s just another example of why he opposed the recently passed ride sharing legislation.
Now, the incidents he feared have happened twice in his own hometown.
“Unfortunately, we know this isn’t the last time this will happen,” he said. “It’s happening far too often. I’ve been working to make sure that everyone in this industry is checked and fingerprinted, including Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers so they’re all on the same page. I will continue to advocate for more measures to be put in place in the upcoming legislative session.”
Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he would be calling for a ban of Uber in Everett until they have addressed the City’s safety concerns.
“I will be putting an order into Council in September,” he said. “I know private businesses that have had the ability to ban Uber from doing business on their property, like Logan Airport. I am going to put a motion forward and look into banning Uber from doing business in Everett until a time they are following guidelines that ensure the safety of Everett residents. We’ve had two incidents and that’s two too many.”
On Monday, Everett Chief of Police Steven A. Mazzie announced the arrest of the Uber driver and that he was charged with several sex related offenses and motor vehicle violations.
On Sunday August 28, 2016, a female victim went to the Everett Police Station reporting a male in a grey Dodge Caravan exposing his genitals to her. The victim had previously reported a similar incident with the same vehicle and suspect in Everett. The victim provided the officers with the registration plate number and description of suspect.
Patrol Officer Nicole O’Donnell observed the suspect vehicle being operated on Ferry Street by Glendale Park. O’Donnell, along with Officer Kristopher Gaff stopped the vehicle. As the officers approached the vehicle, the vehicle suddenly accelerated and drove into oncoming traffic on Ferry Street. The suspect vehicle turned onto a dead end street and the suspect fled on foot from the vehicle. The suspect was eventually taken into custody after fleeing through several yards and streets.
Paul Griffin, 28, of Malden, was arrested.
He listed his occupation as an Uber driver, but was not carrying a passenger at the time of his arrest. He was charged with Open and Gross Lewdness, Lewd and Lascivious Conduct, Failure to Stop For Police, Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Resisting Arrest. The suspect is also under investigation for similar offenses in other cities and towns.
“I’m thankful for the quick response by the members of our department before somebody was hurt,” said Mazzie. “Based on some information developed in this incident we will be working with neighboring Police Departments to investigate other potentially related incidents.”
According to Jake Wark of Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley’s Office, Griffin has an open case in Boston for exposing himself to two women in March near Downtown Crossing. In that incident, Griffin was driving for Uber, but the victims were pedestrians and not passengers. He is due back in court in that case on Sept. 20.