POLICE: Man claims to be Uber driver, arrested on sexual assault charge

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa (WHO-TV) — Polk County court documents allege 33-year-old Nirmal Chhetri of Pleasant Hill claimed to be an off-duty Uber driver as two women, whose phone batteries had died, were in search of a safe ride home early Sunday from downtown Des Moines.

“We all have those times where you think your phone is fully charged and then magically the battery has wiped itself out,” said Pleasant Hill Captain Amy Kramer.

The women admitted to police they were both really intoxicated and accepted Chhetri`s offer. But they later noticed he was taking them somewhere else in his Honda vehicle when they arrived at Chhetri`s Pleasant Hill home in the 400 block of NE 60th Street.

Kramer said, “We have Uber and Lyft all over the place now and we`ve become a little bit immune to any vehicle obviously can be that ride. Make sure you`ve actually ordered those rides to take you home.”

Court documents say the women agreed to stay at Chhetri’s home to get rest.  He placed both women in separate bedrooms. That`s when one of the women said she could hear Chhetri forcing himself on her friend.  Police say she unlocked the door with her fingernail to find Chhetri buttoning up his pants with the other woman`s shorts undone.  “There`s still some witness interviews and things.  Collection of things we`d like to take care of,” said Kramer.

The two women struggled to leave the home since all of the doors were locked.  They soon escaped and ran all the way down the street to the nearest Kum & Go gas station where they reported the alleged sexual assault.  It was a move police say seems simple but is courageous.  Kramer said, “It is a traumatic incident. It is to some people very embarrassing and difficult to talk about, but we are here to help them through that process.”

The female victim told officers Chhetri unbuttoned her pants and performed oral sex on her and even tried to have intercourse but she stopped him.  Officers arrested Chhetri at his home later Sunday evening.  “The charge is sexual assault in the third degree,” said Kramer.

Chhetri told officers he only kissed the woman.  Investigators swabbed Chhetri’s cheek for a DNA sample. They continue to investigate whether or not Chhetri claimed to be an Uber driver.

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