After an emotionally wrenching hearing Tuesday, the Uber driver convicted of sexually assaulting a 24-year-old passenger who hired him to drive her from Center City to Montgomery County was sentenced to 71/2 to 15 years in prison.
Abdellah Elkaddi, 47, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Morocco, was ordered by Montgomery County Court Judge Thomas P. Rogers to serve five years' probation in addition to his jail term. At his April trial, a jury had deliberated 61/2 hours before finding him guilty of a variety of assault charges, but acquitting him of rape.
Elkaddi "injured my heart and soul beyond words," the woman testified at the sentencing hearing. The experience had so traumatized her, she said, that she lost her job at a law firm and required therapy.
As she spoke, her father wiped away tears.
She testified that the June night last year on which the attack occurred, a night "meant to be one of fun with peers and colleagues," instead "turned into a night of shock and terror."
Elkaddi showed little emotion during the 90-minute hearing, which an interpreter translated into Arabic.
The judge said Elkaddi had "robbed" the family. "I realize that every day, that family gets up and that's the first thing that comes to her mind," Rogers said.
About 11 p.m. June 10, 2015, Elkaddi picked up the woman after she called for a ride from Center City, having spent the evening with coworkers. He drove her to the Norristown Transportation Center, where she believed she had left her car. When they arrived, the car wasn't there.
Elkaddi then drove the passenger to the Norristown police station for help. No officers were available to assist her, so the woman asked Elkaddi to drive her to her home.
She fell asleep during the drive. When she woke up, Elkaddi was assaulting her.
The woman then told Elkaddi to drop her off near the West Norriton police station. She went inside and reported the assault.
At the start of Tuesday's hearing, she took the stand, her voice trembling as she stated and spelled her name. She tearfully described the effect of the assault on her and her family, pausing frequently to compose herself.
Elkaddi "violated me and my body for his own selfish pleasure," the woman said. In addition to losing her job, she said, she has had difficulty taking the classes and tests necessary to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Her father described Elkaddi as "an animal" who violated his daughter's trust. "I've had to come to terms with this as a father," he said. "I was available - I could have picked her up."
After admonishing Elkaddi for failing to express remorse, the father looked him in the eyes and described him as sitting in "a toxic pit of cowardice."
The damage Elkaddi did to his daughter "can't be measured," he said.
Elkaddi's lawyer, William Reilly, said he wished that his client had expressed remorse and offered an apology, but "we don't have that here. He does maintain his innocence," Reilly said.
When offered the opportunity to make a statement, Elkaddi declined, saying, "No thank you, your honor."
Reilly called the assault an aberration and a mistake for Elkaddi, who had no prior criminal record.
Prosecutor Michelle Henry scoffed at that description, which she said was an attempt to minimize the crime. Henry, a Bucks County prosecutor specially sworn in to handle the case, argued for consecutive sentences, which Rogers ordered.
"The victim showed a lot of courage throughout the trial," Henry said after the hearing. "Hopefully, she can put it all behind her."