LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Felix Torres is no stranger to a jail cell.
The Fort Myers Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting a passenger has a lengthy criminal history, including arrests for armed robbery and breaking and entering.
On Wednesday, prosecutors cited Torres’s rap sheet from Massachusetts as the reason for a hefty bond.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a press conference that the rideshare company could bear some responsibility.
“It’s Uber’s responsibility, or that company’s responsibility to vet the people they’re hiring,” said Marceno.
Torres has since been banned from using the Uber app.
Uber and fellow rideshare company Lyft launched a shared database last year that keeps track of banned drivers.
Uber told Fox 4 Investigates all potential drivers are required to go through a background check.
“Drivers are re-screened annually and we also have a continuous background checks process in place that monitors for new offenses. Our process complies with local requirements and laws in the jurisdictions where we operate,” Uber said in a statement.
The screening process focuses specifically on convictions, not necessarily charges.
Despite the lengthy arrest record, no convictions are found on Torres’s record.
For context, Fox 4 Investigates looked at a report from the Legal Action Center, a non-profit that fights discrimination for people with arrest and conviction records, substance use disorders, and HIV or AIDS.
The group calls for business owners to consider only convictions and pending prosecutions when performing background checks on potential job candidates.
“The fact that someone has been charged with a crime should not disqualify them for a job if they were not convicted. If a person is being prosecuted for an offense that is relevant to a job for which they have applied, an employer may consider it,” the report states.
Marceno isn’t convinced.
“When you see his bone-chilling arrest record, the only thing he should be driving is in the back of a police car to prison,” Marceno said.
These kinds of alleged assaults are rare, but Uber’s own documents show thousands have occurred across the country.
Fox 4 Investigates pulled Uber’s safety reports.
The most recent data available shows between 2019 and 2020 there were 3,824 reports of sexual assaults.
That’s a 38% drop from 2017 and 2018, when there were nearly six thousand reports of sexual assaults.
Riders were the accused party in around 43% of those cases, according to Uber.
The report found 99.9% of all trips ended safely.