Some Uber drivers, parents and teens ignore prohibition on lone juvenile riders

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Teenagers say they like taking Uber around town because it gives them a sense of freedom. But a company rule prohibits drivers from taking unaccompanied minors.

“Uber’s community guidelines clearly outline that children must be supervised while using Uber and only adults can have an Uber account. Drivers and riders who violate these guidelines risk losing access to Uber,” wrote an Uber spokesman in an email to CBS 5 Investigates.

But teenagers who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates said they take Uber rides without adults, despite the rule.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Self-driving Uber hits, kills pedestrian in Tempe]

“A lot of young people use Uber,” said one 14-year-old girl, whose identity CBS 5 investigates agreed to withhold so she would speak freely about the issue.

“They want to feel like they’re like they’re old enough. They want to be free and be grown and be able to do stuff on their own,” she said.

This teenager says she has taken Uber to school in the mornings, but there was one incident that made her feel uncomfortable.

[RELATED: Uber 'winding down' self-driving car program in Arizona]

“The second time (she took Uber), it was weird. That guy, like when he was taking me to school, he took me on a totally different path through an alley to get school, and I was like kind of freaked out,” she said.

Three years ago, a teenage girl from Scottsdale took an Uber ride home from school. She said the driver pulled over and assaulted her.

The driver, 53-year-old James Stough, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempt to commit sexual abuse.

[RELATED: Uber driver accused of trying to assault teen passenger gets probation]

The victim’s family sued Uber in Maricopa County Superior Court. The parties reached a settlement. The attorney for the family told CBS 5 Investigates that the settlement included a confidentiality agreement.

Uber recently announced it would no longer require victims of sexual harassment or assault to sign confidentiality agreements in exchange for settlements, but that new policy does not affect cases that have already resulted in settlements.

A spokesman for Uber told CBS 5 Investigates that the company encourages parents and drivers to report teens using the Uber app so the company can take action.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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