Grab driver accused of raping Thai teen charged with sexual assault

Security footage shows the moment a 17-year-old student got into the Grab car she called early Thursday morning. She says the driver pulled over and sexually assaulted her. Photo: Amarin TV / YouTube
Security footage shows the moment a 17-year-old student got into the Grab car she called early Thursday morning. She says the driver pulled over and sexually assaulted her. Photo: Amarin TV / YouTube

A 33-year-old Grab driver accused of raping a teen passenger while driving her home in Thailand’s northeast has been charged with four crimes.

Udon Thani police this morning said the evidence supported charging Apinan Prawanwai with four charges stemming from his alleged assault of a drunken 17-year-old girl he picked up in the wee hours last week.

“The suspect continues to maintain his innocence, but the evidence indicates otherwise,” said Maj. Plewthong Sarinan, the Udon Thani investigator in charge of the case. He declined to discuss the specific evidence uncovered. 

Grab driver denies raping 17-year-old Thai student

He said the counts filed against Apinan, who turned himself in Monday, include sexual assault, failing to obtain the proper license and related charges. Police have remanded him over court custody. Plewthong did not know if the court had offered to release him on a bond.

The alleged attack occurred around 2:30am on Thursday while Apinan was driving the 11th-grade girl home from a party at a friend’s house. The girl told reporters that he suddenly parked the car after picking her up, leaned over to embrace her and asked for a kiss. She said that she told him no and that she felt nauseous. That’s when she said he dragged her into the back seat.

While Apinan says he did nothing wrong, the girl said that he had called her the next day to apologize and beg her not to turn him in. She went to the police anyway and furnished them with screenshots she said were of their chat messages.

In a statement released in response to the incident, Singapore-based Grab said it felt “immense sadness” about the alleged event and had offered unspecified support to the victim as well as terminated the driver.

“We want to assure you that customer safety is the most important thing for us,” it read. It went on to detail different safety measures it currently employs such as emergency buttons and a 24-hour complaint center. 

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, TRANSPORTATION

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