Uber has removed driving privileges for a man accused of secretly videotaping a sexual encounter with a 19-year-old woman he had picked up in Wrightsville Beach.
According to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, Gerald William Smelson, 72, picked the 19-year-old woman and her friend, also 19, on Jan. 7. As Smelson dropped the pair off outside of their home, one passed out on the curb next to his vehicle, said Lt. Jerry Brewer, spokesperson for the sheriff's office.
"Smelson then put the woman back in his vehicle, took her to his home and had sex with her," Brewer said.
Brewer said the woman spent the night at Smelson's home and he took her home the next day. The woman reportedly went to the hospital that same day, where she was treated for release. Hospital employees called the Wrightsville Beach Police Department, which then alerted the NHCSO.
Smelson was arrested March 2 and charged with felony secret peeping in connection to videotaping the alleged incident. However, the alleged victim is not pursuing further charges at this time.
When reached by phone Thursday, Smelson said he denies the charges against him.
"All of them," Smelson said. "Any and all. That's all I can say at this point really. I'm just not comfortable. This is just beyond me."
The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office believes there could be additional alleged victims, and ask anyone with information to call 910-798-4162 or submit a tip anonymously: https://www.newhanoversheriff.com/submit-a-crime-tip/.
Smelson, who made bond this week, no longer has access to the Uber app. A representative said Friday morning that he is no longer driving for the company and issued the following statement:
“What police have detailed is disturbing and deplorable. The driver does not have access to the app and we will work with law enforcement to help with their investigation.”
Smelson's next court date is March 22.
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