Two Muslim Uber drivers charged with sex assault of MSU students

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From Detroit Free Press

EAST LANSING — Two Uber drivers have been charged in connection with sexual assaults in East Lansing in January and February.

Hassan Ibrahim, 48, faces one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with an incident that occurred Feb. 14, according to East Lansing police. He turned himself in March 11 after a warrant had been issued for his arrest. He was arraigned the same day before Lansing 54B District Court by Judge Richard Ball.

Salim Salem, 47,  faces two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with an incident that occurred Jan. 16, police said, and he turned himself in Tuesday and was arraigned that day before 55th District Court Magistrate Mark Blumer.

Both were released on $5,000 cash/surety bonds. Salem’s bond includes a condition that he not work as an Uber driver or cab driver in the future.

Ibrahim’s attorney, Jeffrey Chip, declined to comment. A message left at a phone number listed for Salem’s attorney, Gregory Crockett, was not returned.

East Lansing police announced in late February that they were investigating two ride-booking drivers who in both cases allegedly made unwelcome sexual advances toward female Michigan State University students. The women complained of inappropriate touching, Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said.

Uber has been notified of both arrests, police said.

“These reports of unacceptable behavior are deplorable, and both drivers have been permanently barred from Uber,” a Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the victims of this traumatic experience. We’ve been working closely with local police since February to aid their investigations and ensure the individuals responsible are brought to justice.”

Wriggelsworth said said Ibrahim and Selim were the two men sought and that no one else is at large.

Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up two two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500.

At the time of the alleged assault, police urged caution when using ride-booking services, which don’t undergo the same regulatory procedures with the Greater Lansing Taxi Authority as traditional taxi companies.

Lansing and East Lansing created the authority in September 2014 to make area cab service more uniform, reliable and safe in the two cities. Since then, Delhi, Delta, Lansing and Meridian townships, plus Michigan State University, have joined the group.

East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks said Uber officials plan to register with the authority but not be licensed by it. The authority will be able to view Uber’s records upon request, and Uber will pay the group’s $1,500 fee, she said.

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