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‘Ride from hell’: Woman sexually assaulted by fake rideshare driver, police say

By David Baker and Micaela Marshall

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    PHOENIX (KPHO, KTVK) — A man pretended to be a rideshare driver and picked up a woman from an Old Town Scottsdale club and sexually assaulted her in Phoenix, and police believe he’s done this before, court documents released on Friday said.

The alleged victim ordered an Uber outside of Cake nightclub near Scottsdale and Camelback roads early in the morning on Feb. 25. According to police, 35-year-old Jose Quintanilla walked up to her and said he was her Uber driver. He was reportedly “adamant” he was her driver, so she got into his SUV.

The woman showed Quintanilla her Tempe address on her phone to confirm that’s where he was taking her because, in the past, sometimes her destination wouldn’t be correct.

She said she put her phone in a cup holder with her GPS on. The woman admitted to being drunk.

During the ride, she looked at the cup holder and didn’t see her phone. She thought it may have dropped between the seat and console area and thought she would get it when she got home.

Police later found out Quintanilla took her cellphone and turned it off in Old Town, court paperwork said.

She then noticed the driver was going the wrong way and told Quintanilla, who replied, “Relax, I got this,” according to court paperwork.

But the woman said she noticed they got off the freeway and not in a good part of town. She said Quintanilla was driving through some apartment complexes.

The woman said she tried to remember landmarks in the area, like a retainer wall, a rock landscape featuring larger river rocks and the freeway.

Police said Quintanilla parked, jumped over the center console and groped and kissed her.

She pretended to need to throw up, so he let her out of the car, court paperwork said. He then got her back into the car and drove to a different area.

Police said he tried to take her to an alley. The woman argued with him about her phone, and Quintanilla forced her back into the backseat of his SUV, court documents said.

Police said Quintanilla then forced her to perform oral sex on him.

He then drove to a more “main street,” and that’s when an officer in a marked Phoenix Police SUV turned on the red and blue lights and turned around to pull over a different driver in the neighborhood, court documents said.

Quintanilla then pulled into a neighborhood near 32nd Street and McKinley Street, just south of Roosevelt Street, and let the woman go, giving back her cellphone, police said. She demanded he give her her wallet.

“This is how bad things happen to people, and you shouldn’t put yourself in this situation,” he replied, according to court paperwork. He then drove off.

The woman said an Uber picked her up from the neighborhood and drove her home.

Police said the woman provided descriptive details of her attacker, the SUV and what the neighborhood looked like, so they identified Quintanilla and his black Ford Escape on surveillance video.

According to police, Uber told them Quintanilla’s account wasn’t activated because it was never completed.

Police interviewed the woman after the incident. She said she was “taken on a 90-minute ride from hell,” where she was scared for her life and thought she was going to die.

Quintanilla was arrested on Thursday and didn’t tell officers anything other than he was starting a new job on April 18.

Arizona’s Family spoke with Quintanilla’s wife, who said he had not been a rideshare driver in six years.

Court paperwork said he had been arrested before, but the recommended charges were redacted.

He was booked into jail on one count of kidnapping and one count of sexual assault, and he has a cash-only bond of $200,000.

Malia May, in Scottsdale on Friday for a bachelorette party, said the situation is “every girl’s worst nightmare.”

“I travel alone a lot for my work, and that’s something that crosses my mind every single time that I’m traveling is something horrible like that happening,” May said.

“Whenever an Uber arrives, I always open the door and say, ‘Who is the Uber for?’ and if they don’t say my name, I make them say it first so I know for sure who the Uber is.”

May said she’s thinking about the victim.

“I just hope for healing and peace in her life because I can’t even imagine how traumatizing that was,” May said.

Investigators believe he’s done this at least twice before.

On March 6, 2020, Quintanilla pretended to be a rideshare driver and offered to take a woman from Old Town to her home in Chandler, police said.

She fell asleep and woke up an hour later, still in his SUV, court paperwork said. He took her phone and tried to send himself money using her CashApp account but couldn’t get it to work, police said.

Investigators said he would give her a ride for free but “wanted to have a little fun first.” When the SUV came to a stop, she got out and he drove off.

The woman later learned about $150 was sent to Quintanilla from her CashApp account, police said.

Police said Quintanilla pounded on a woman’s Phoenix apartment door, trying to break in, on Feb. 7, 2022. He reportedly had driven the woman home a few nights before, claiming they had a “romantic encounter.” She denied it.

It’s important to keep safety tips in mind when requesting a rideshare vehicle.

Uber says to make sure you match the license plate, car make, model and driver photo with what’s provided in the app. It’s also a good idea to have the driver confirm your name before getting in and share your trip details with loved ones.

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