28 Julio 2017 11:42
The lawsuit is the first of its kind
A US woman has filed a lawsuit against holiday rental giant, Airbnb, for an alleged sexual assault, claiming that she was attacked by a host who was not properly screened.This is the first case of its kind because it raises serious questions about the legal responsibilities of the tech company in regards to hosts who violate laws or engage in criminal behaviour. The suit, filed yesterday by Leslie Lapayowker, accuses Airbnb of negligence after she was allowed to rent a room from Carlos Del Olmo, a verified ‘superhost’, who has been accused of domestic violence in the past. ‘I don’t want this to happen to other women,’ 51-year-old Lapayowker told the Guardian. ‘It was horrible, and I think that everybody should be warned that this could potentially happen to them or their daughter or their wife or their sister.’ Del Olmo has since denied the allegations against him, noting that criminal charges were never filed. According to an Airbnb spokesperson, a background check was carried out on the host, but because he was not convicted of domestic abuse, they allowed him to offer his home to guests. He has since been removed. The alleged incident happened when Lapayowker moved to Los Angeles in July 2016 and planned on living in Del Olmo’s Airbnb for a month while she looked for permanent residence. Due to Del Olmo’s ‘superhost’ status, meaning he has many positive ratings, Lapayowker was confident that she would be safe, at the very least. But the filed lawsuit states Del Olmo made her feel uncomfortable from the beginning with aggressive gestures and speech. After three days, Lapayowker decided to leave the studio she was renting, but returned to get her laptop and tell Del Olmo she was moving out early. The host told her that he wanted to show her something in the studio, the suit claims, but then he allegedly locked the door, pulled his shorts down and started masturbating in front of her, telling Lapayowker to touch him and ‘taste’ it. Lapayowker says she begged him to stop, but undeterred, he forced his tongue into her mouth and ejaculated in a nearby bin. He is then accused of telling her: ‘Don’t forget to leave me a positive review on Airbnb.’ Although the case is likely to have a serious impact on Airbnb’s legal standing and reputation, the company has previously said that it does not take responsibility when its hosts racially discriminate or violate local housing laws.