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Washington man who raped woman while impersonating ride-share driver arrested, police say

Washington rape suspect
Posted at 1:34 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 16:34:11-04

Police arrested a Washington state man who they believe raped a woman while pretending to be her ride-share driver.

Authorities say a man turned himself in on Wednesday, a day after police shared surveillance footage of his face and identified him as a person of interest in a December sexual assault.

Police in King County, Washington, which encompasses Seattle, said the 34-year-old unidentified suspect turned himself in after a family member recognized him in surveillance footage from outside of the victim's home.

"Thanks to the extensive media coverage, a family member recognized the person of interest and, a short time later, the 34-year-old male turned himself in," the King County Sheriff's Office said in statement Wednesday. "Upon further investigation, the suspect was arrested today at his attorney’s office and booked into the King County Jail for investigation of rape."

Police said the suspect led the woman to believe that he was her driver, but detectives have not "been unable to associate the man with any ride-share company."

Investigators had been seeking the suspect since December, when a woman alleged that a ride-share driver had raped her after picking her up from a bar, according to police.

"She went outside to catch her rideshare home that a friend had ordered for her. A man in a black vehicle, possibly a Dodge Charger, led her to believe he was her ride-share driver," the office said in a statement. "While driving her home, the victim states the man pulled the vehicle over and raped her."

The sheriff's office did not provide any details about the suspect's identity in the statement. It was unclear if he had been charged as of late Wednesday night.

The arrest comes as lawmakers debate the potential safety risks of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. South Carolina legislators recently introduced the "Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act," a bill named after a 21-year-old University of South Carolina student who was killed last weekend after getting into a vehicle she mistook for her Uber.

The bill would require ride-sharing vehicles to have an illuminated, company-provided sign with the company's "trademark or logo that is patently visible so as to be seen in darkness," the legislature said.

Josephson was alone when she mistakenly jumped into a stranger's car early Friday morning. She died from multiple sharp force injuries, officials said, and her body was recovered in a wooded area.

Police arrested Nathaniel Rowland on charges of murder and kidnapping in connection with Josephson's death, according to police. He is next due in court on April 22.

ABC News' Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.