A social studies teacher at Zucker Middle School is on paid leave after being accused of kidnapping a woman while working as an Uber driver and sexually assaulting her in his vehicle on the side of the road.
Patrick Aiello, 39, of Bluewater Way in Charleston, is being held at the Al Cannon Detention Center jail on charges of kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was denied bail, according to the bond court.
Aiello picked up a woman and her male friend Sunday night from The Windjammer on Isle of Palms, according to his arrest affidavit, and drove the man to his downtown Charleston residence. The woman also exited the vehicle but was intoxicated and didn’t want to walk home in the dark, so she asked Aiello if he could drop her off a few blocks away, the document states.
Aiello began to drive the 23-year-old woman around, but not to her residence. The woman noticed she wasn’t near her home and Aiello told her she needed to pay him in sexual favors, according to the affidavit.
The woman told police she offered Aiello money and asked several times to be let out of the vehicle. Aiello yelled at her and demanded sex as payment, then stopped the vehicle off Savannah Highway near McLeod Road, and attacked and sexually assaulted her, according to the affidavit.
Aiello then kicked the woman out of the vehicle, and as she ran onto the highway to get help, she was struck by a vehicle, the affidavit states.
Charleston police responded to the incident about 11:15 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Marginal and McLeod roads. The woman told emergency personnel that she had just been sexually assaulted on Savannah Highway by an unknown man and that she was trying to get help when she was struck, according to the police report.
She was taken to Medical University Hospital for treatment and later identified Aiello in a photo lineup. Her condition was not known by police.
Aiello was arrested just after 6 p.m. Monday at the Charleston Police Department. The arrest affidavit states that he admitted to offering the woman a ride when she was “too drunk,” and said he pulled off Savannah Highway, kissed her, performed oral sex on her and then kicked her out.
Investigators wrote in the affidavit that the woman was having trouble immediately recalling details of the assault but remembers being attacked and Aiello on top of her. The police incident report labeled the crime as “forcible rape.”
Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh said Tuesday night that Aiello was removed as a driver on the Uber platform after the business learned of his charges. She said Uber is assisting authorities.
“Our hearts go out to the victim and her family as we investigate this incident,” she said.
Aiello is a sixth-grade teacher at Zucker. Charleston County School District spokesman Daniel Head said Tuesday via email that Aiello was placed on paid administrative leave and that the alleged events occurred in the evening, “after school hours, and there is no indication that any student was involved.”
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594.