Uber driver in Massachusetts arrested, accused of trapping woman inside car


A man in Massachusetts was arrested and charged with kidnapping on Saturday after police said he trapped a woman inside his car Thursday evening.

Authorities arrested Kamal Essalak, 47, of Acton, after officers investigated an alleged kidnapping that occurred Thursday shortly after 8:30 p.m. in Boston, the Boston Police Department said in a press release. Officers responded to a report of a woman who said she requested a ride on a ride-sharing app.

“When the victim got into the vehicle, she noted that the suspect/operator was behaving strangely and requested to be dropped off and let out of the vehicle,” police said in the release. “When the suspect stopped the car, the female attempted to open the door but found that the child safety locks had been enabled on both rear doors, making her egress impossible and trapping her inside the vehicle.”

Police said when the woman began to scream and bang on the car window glass to draw attention, Essalak began to climb into the back seat, “laughing periodically.”

The woman told authorities that she was able to slide around Essalak and into the driver’s seat where she unlocked the door and exited the vehicle.

An Uber spokesperson confirmed to NBC News in an email Tuesday that the ride was an Uber trip.

The spokesperson said Essalak was an Uber driver, but was removed from the service after the company learned of the incident.

“What’s been reported is horrifying and something no one should have to go through,” the spokesperson said. “We appreciate Acton Police Department’s quick actions that helped lead to an arrest in this case.”

Boston police advised people using ride-sharing services to check if child safety door locks are activated in the vehicle they request. The safety locks are typically quite small and dark-colored, making them difficult to see in dark conditions.

Essalak was arraigned Monday in Brighton District Court. It’s unclear if he had an attorney.

In 2019, Uber introduced a number of resources for victims of sexual violence after the company released an extensive report detailing 5,981 reports of sexual abuse during a ride between 2017 and 2018 in the United States.

Out of the 5,981 cases, 235 reported rape; 280 reported attempted rape; and 1,560 reported groping.

Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, told NBC News at the time that company executives were fully aware that releasing the statistics could hurt their business, but said they felt an obligation to do so in order to combat the scourge of sexual violence.

“It exists everywhere,” West said. “It exists in our companies, in our classrooms, in our homes.”

“The only way to grapple with that is to push through the discomfort that we feel in talking about these issues. To count it where we can, to confront it, and thereby end it.”