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Local News

Santa Maria Uber Driver Charged with Sexually Assaulting 4 SLO-Area College Students

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office seeks additional victims of man accused of assaulting and burglarizing women after giving them rides home

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow leads a news conference Monday on the case of Uber driver Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez of Santa Maria, who is accused of raping multiple intoxicated women after giving them rides home in San Luis Obispo. Click to view larger
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow leads a news conference Monday on the case of Uber driver Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez of Santa Maria, who is accused of raping multiple intoxicated women after giving them rides home in San Luis Obispo.  (Joe Johnston / San Luis Obispo photo)
Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez
Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez (SLOPD photo)

An Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting four San Luis Obispo students pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges on Monday in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

At a press conference, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced his office is searching for more victims of Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez, 39, of Santa Maria, who allegedly assaulted and burglarized women after giving them rides home.

Charges against Alarcon-Nunez include rape of an intoxicated person, first-degree burglary, oral copulation of an intoxicated person and grand theft of personal property. The prosecutor sought $1,475,000 in bail at his arraignment, up from the $200,000 required when he was arrested, Dow said.

Four victims — two 19-year-olds, a 21-year-old and a 22-year-old — have been identified in San Luis Obispo County, Dow said. Three of the victims are Cal Poly students and the fourth is a Cuesta College student.

Two of the assaults occurred the night of Dec. 17 and early morning of Dec. 18, with two others on Jan. 5 and Jan. 14.

Alarcon-Nunez allegedly used the Uber ride-sharing app to scout potential victims, picking them up before their selected driver arrived. Alarcon-Nunez then requested the women use another payment app, Venmo, to give him money for the ride, instead of receiving it through the Uber app.

He allegedly used aliases, including the name Bruno Diaz, to conceal his identity.

Using a non-Uber payment app also allowed Alarcon-Nunez to keep investigators from tracking him — they initially didn’t realize the four cases were connected, said Sophia Mathews, an administrative services officer for the District Attorney’s office.

Alarcon-Nunez drove for Uber in other places, including Santa Barbara, leading investigators to believe there may be additional victims, Dow said.

Dow also said Alarcon-Nunez is a Mexican citizen who was voluntarily deported from New Mexico in 2005, but his immigration status won’t impact the prosecution of his case.

Alarcon-Nunez was carrying a 2015 California driver’s license, and it’s unclear how long he’s been in the United States, or when he re-entered the country after he was deported. Dow declined to comment on Alarcon-Nunez’s potential criminal background.

Dow said Alarcon-Nunez’s immigration status is relevant to the safety of Uber customers, who may be picked up by drivers with unknown backgrounds.

“If those companies are not conducting adequate background checks to make sure that they know the true identity of people who are driving, then those consumers — those of us that use those services — we don’t know for sure whether or not we’re at risk,” he said.

Dow advised Uber customers to verify the name of the driver who arrives to pick them up with the driver they selected in the app. He also said to be wary of drivers who try to get customers to pay for their rides with other apps.

Dow encouraged anyone with information about other incidents involving Alarcon-Nunez to call Crime Stoppers at 805.549.7867 or the District Attorney’s Office at 805.781.5821.

Click here for more stories from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

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