New York Uber driver arraigned for allegedly kidnapping teen girl during ride home from Sweet 16: DA
The 15-year-old girl was able to escape the Uber and call police.
Sean Williams, 32, was arraigned this week on, among other charges, kidnapping. He pleaded not guilty, his attorney said.
The victim managed to escape during the July incident, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office said in a statement on Thursday.
On July 12, Williams allegedly picked up the 15-year-old girl from a party in Atlantic Beach, New York, to take her about 16 miles away to Merrick, according to the district attorney's office,
But Williams allegedly canceled the route and tried to convince the girl to go drinking with him, prosecutors said. He also allegedly wanted her to go to his home in Brooklyn -- the opposite direction from Merrick -- "where he intended to sexually assault her," prosecutors said.
The teen told Williams her age and repeatedly asked that he take her home, prosecutors said, but Williams allegedly kept driving west, in the wrong direction.
Once they reached Brooklyn the teen told the driver she needed a bathroom, and when he pulled over, she ran into a McDonald's to call police, prosecutors said.
Williams allegedly followed her into the McDonald's but fled before police arrived, prosecutors said.
Williams was arrested outside his Brooklyn home four days later. During his arraignment Tuesday, he was charged with second-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping as a sexually motivated felony, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful imprisonment, prosecutors said.
"The family of a 15-year old girl relied on a car service to get their daughter home safely," Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. "The girl was terrorized by the defendant’s alleged behavior and bravely took action to contact police and free herself."
Williams, who has pleaded not guilty, is "adamantly denying the charges," his defense attorney, Steven Gaitman, told ABC News on Friday.
"She had her cell phone the entire time -- there was ample opportunity, whether it be traffic lights, stop signs, to have either rolled down the window, gotten out of the vehicle," Gaitman said. "Being that she had to go to the bathroom, he pulled over at the next available spot."
"I don't think this lends itself to a kidnapping. I think there's another side of the story," Gaitman said.
When asked by ABC News why Williams allegedly drove in the wrong direction to Brooklyn, Gaitman declined to comment.
Williams is set to return to court on Sept. 18.
An Uber spokesperson said: "What has been reported is deeply alarming and the driver's access to the app has been removed. We stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement."