After a late-night dinner and too many drinks at a local casino, a Chester County woman got into an Uber to head home, but the driver took a detour and raped her, a prosecutor said Thursday in urging a jury to convict him.
The panel of eight women and four men deliberated for three hours before finding Ahmed Elgaafary guilty of rape of an unconscious person, sexual assault, indecent assault, and indecent assault without consent.
Elgaafary, 27, of Lansdale, remained emotionless as the forewoman announced the verdict. He is an Egyptian citizen who could be deported as a result of this conviction, authorities said Thursday.
After picking the woman up at Valley Forge Casino Resort in February, Elgaafary steered his GMC Yukon onto a dimly lit road in Charlestown Township and attacked her in the backseat, Assistant District Attorney Vincent Robert Cocco said at the close of the four-day trial.
“She should have been safe,” he said in describing the assault to a jury. “He knew she was vulnerable. He knew she was alone. He knew she was too drunk.”
Elgaafary kept the Uber meter running, Cocco said, stretching the 15-minute ride into a 53-minute one. He charged her for the longer ride and after she vomited in his car, added an extra charge of $150.
When questioned by police shortly after the reported rape on Feb. 10, Elgaafary initially denied any sexual contact with the woman, then 21. When the results of a rape kit proved otherwise, authorities said, Elgaafary changed his story and said the two had consensual sex.
His lawyer, Melissa Berlot McCafferty, said Thursday that the woman had seduced Elgaafary in the Uber and that he initially lied rather than admit he had cheated on his pregnant wife.
“He cheated on his wife,” McCafferty said. “He’s not a rapist. He’s not a criminal.”
The victim, who said she had several glasses of wine and two cocktails that night, said she remembered nothing after leaving the casino at 2:20 a.m. But when she woke up in her bed later that morning, she had bruises on her thighs and a nagging feeling that something terrible had happened. So she went to a local hospital for a rape kit.
“Something just didn’t feel right in my mind and body,” she testified earlier this week. The Inquirer does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault without their consent.
On Thursday, as she urged the jury to acquit the driver, McCafferty sought to capitalize on the woman’s lack of recall about the events of that night.
”That’s star witness No. 1,” she said of the woman. “Doesn’t remember anything.”
Cocco, the prosecutor, pointed to her absence of memory as an indicator of the level of her intoxication that night — and of her inability to consent to sexual conduct.
On the witness stand, Elgaafary acknowledged that the woman was drunk. She walked so unsteadily, casino footage showed, that an acquaintance walked with her and helped her into the waiting Uber.
After the verdict, Uber officials condemned the driver’s conduct and said he had been “permanently removed” from their employ.
“What’s been reported is appalling," said Carly DeBeikes, an Uber spokesperson. "Our thoughts are with the rider and her family during this time.”