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Uber driver pleads not guilty to kidnapping, sexual battery

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An Uber driver recently pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and sexual battery charges for allegedly propositioning three women in Oakland and Berkeley on a single day last month.

Gebrele Amare, 23, of Oakland, who is being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland on June 26 for a pretrial hearing. Police say in court papers that Amare’s alleged crime spree began at 5:30 a.m. on May 2, when he picked up a woman in Berkeley who requested a ride to work.

After the woman got in Amare’s car, he told her he wasn’t going to her work and instead was going to take her to a room, Berkeley police Officer Jesse Grant wrote in a probable cause statement.

Amare also told the woman that she could not use her cellphone and she could not get out of his car, according to Grant.

The woman repeatedly told Amare to let her out and she eventually opened the car door while the car was still moving and threw herself from the vehicle while Amare sped up and she suffered abrasions to her ankle and elbow, Grant wrote.

At 7:40 a.m. on May 2, Amare picked up another woman in Oakland and touched her on her thigh, according to Grant.

The woman demanded to be let out of the car but Amare refused, saying he was going to drive her to work, Grant said.

The woman tried to unlock the car’s doors but Amare kept them locked, Grant wrote.

The woman then threatened to break out a car window to escape so Amare finally released her, according to Grant.

Police sought a warrant for Amare’s arrest and arrested him at Ashby Avenue and Telegraph Avenue at about 3 p.m. on May 9.

On May 13, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged Amare with kidnapping to commit a sex crime for the incident involving the Berkeley woman and sexual battery by restraint for the incident with the Oakland woman.

On May 30, the District Attorney’s Office filed an amended complaint charging Amare with an additional count of kidnapping to commit a sex crime for another incident involving an Oakland woman on May 2. The details of that incident haven’t been disclosed.

Grant wrote that after Amare was arrested he admitted his involvement in the incident with the Berkeley woman and said he “kidnapped” her because he wanted to have sex with her and wanted to “pimp her.” Amare also admitted accelerating his car when he saw the woman open the door in an attempt at keeping her in his car, according to Grant. However, Amare denied being involved in the incident with the Oakland woman who was picked up at 7:40 a.m. on May 2, Grant said. Amare pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him at a hearing on May 31.

Uber didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment on the charges against Amare and for details about the kind of background check it conducted before it hired him.

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