An Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in Boston's South End over the weekend faced a judge Monday.
Ranjan Thapa, 26, of Everett, was ordered to be held on $10,000 cash bail after entering a not guilty plea on a rape charge in Roxbury District Court on Monday morning.
Prosecutors said the victim was intoxicated and couldn't give consent; however, Thapa's attorney argued that the victim came onto him and that just because the victim couldn't remember consenting, that it didn't mean the victim didn't consent.
His attorney also added that his client "hadn't been with a woman in several years" and that "he knew he'd get in trouble."
Thapa also allegedly told to police that he had sex with the victim twice before he was arrested near Hemenway Street in the city's South End neighborhood just after 1 a.m. on Sunday.
Boston police said Northeastern University police officers had stopped a man who identified himself as a rideshare operator who was taking a female passenger to her home.
Police on scene made observations that led them to believe the woman was in distress and may have been the victim of a sexual assault. The woman was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
Following an investigation by Boston police's sexual assault unit, Thapa was taken into custody and charged.
Thapa's brother-in-law, Rabindra Lamichane, told NBC10 Boston outside the courthouse Monday that the family is shocked over the allegations. He said Thapa has never been in trouble with the law before.
"We heard this happened and we are totally shocked. We never expected this. He’s a regular guy," Lamichane said.
He said Thapa came to the United States in 2011 and is a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The school said it is aware of the criminal charges against him and is pursuing "appropriate next steps" in response."
Thapa's second job as an Uber driver is to help him financially survive, his family said.
Uber has confirmed that Thapa did drive for them.
"What police describe is deeply troubling. The driver has been removed from the app, and we stand ready to assist the Boston Police Department with their investigation," the company said in a statement.
The incident remains under investigation by Boston police.
Thapa is due back in court on April 17.
If you’re a victim of a sexual assault that has or has not been reported to police and would feel more comfortable seeking confidential advice from a non-law enforcement agency or representative, the Boston Police Department advises and encourages you to call the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center at 1-800-841-8371. BARCC provides free and confidential counseling, case management, legal and medical advocacy services to survivors in the greater Boston area.