Update, Feb. 7: The Houston Uber driver charged with raping a passenger served 14 years in federal prison for drug-related charges, The Houston Chronicle is reporting. Duncan Eric Burton was released from prison in Beaumont in November 2012.
Citing Laura Cottingham, deputy assistant director with the city's Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department, the story states that "Someone with a negotiated drug conviction on his or her record would not be eligible for a city-issued permit, but could appeal and attempt to receive one."
Uber Spokesperson Debbee Hancock told us in an email Monday that, "When the city implemented its permitting process, thousands of driver partners were already using the Uber platform to make a living. We have been working closely with the city to move these drivers through the permitting process as quickly as possible, and every week hundreds of drivers complete the process, but the system is not designed to quickly and efficiently issue permits to a large volume of applicants."
Hancock did not provide a phone number in her email, and has not yet responded to an email request Tuesday regarding discuss Burton's criminal history.
A Houston Uber driver charged with raping a passenger in January told police the woman was intoxicated and he took her back to his apartment because she was unable to locate her home.
Duncan Eric Burton, 57, "admitted to performing oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex with the [woman] once they were at his apartment," and then went to work, according to a Houston police officer's affidavit filed in Harris County District Clerk. The woman "stated she has no memory of a cab ride, any sexual activity, or the defendant, was unaware any sex acts were occurring, and did not consent in any manner."
The woman and two friends went to a bar January 26, and then called an Uber car for a ride back to the Crown Plaza hotel at 2712 Southwest Freeway, the affidavit states. One of the woman's friends with her that night told a police officer that she was "ill and throwing up, so he told the driver to take her home." The friend gave Burton the woman's address.
The woman told the officer that "the last thing she recalls is being at the club with the two friends, ordering one round of drinks, and then has no recollection of anything after, until waking up the next morning, alone, in an unfamiliar apartment," according to the affidavit. She went to Memorial Hermann Southwest to have a sexual assault exam conducted.
When the officer contacted Burton, the Uber driver said that she did not live at the address on her driver's license, but had moved around the corner, the affidavit states. But when the woman knocked "on an unknown apartment door...a male answered, advising [the woman] that she did not live there," according to the affidavit.
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Because Burton "was unable to get an exact address" for the woman, he took her to his apartment off Wilcrest Drive, the affidavit states.
Burton was arrested April 2 and charged with sexual assault.
Uber drivers are supposed to register with the city, but Burton was not registered, according to Lara Cottingham, deputy assistant director with the city's Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department.
"The driver in question has not been licensed by the city," Cottingham told The Houston Press. "....We have no record of him."