Airbnb paid an Australian vacationer $7 million in hush cash after she was allegedly raped at knifepoint in a Manhattan rental by an assailant who one way or the other had a replica of the residence’s keys, in line with a brand new bombshell report.
The alleged rape occurred early on New Years’ Day in 2016 after the unnamed 29-year-old lady and several other pals rented a first-floor residence on West thirty seventh Avenue, a number of blocks south of Instances Sq., in line with a Bloomberg report printed Tuesday.
The visitors allegedly picked up their keys from a close-by bodega earlier that night time with out displaying identification, then went out to a New Years’ Eve social gathering.
When the sufferer returned from a bar with out her pals shortly after midnight, the suspect, 24-year-old Junior Lee, was hiding within the rest room, Bloomberg reported. He pointed a kitchen knife at her, grabbed her and raped her, in line with the outlet.
When police captured Lee later that night time, they allegedly discovered a set of keys to the residence in his bag, alongside a knife and one of many lady’s earrings.
He was charged with predatory sexual assault and will resist life in jail, in line with the report. Lee pled not responsible and stays in custody.
The Authorized Help Society, which Bloomberg mentioned is representing Lee, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Hours after the alleged assault, “security brokers” from Airbnb swooped in, placing the lady up in a lodge, flying her mom in from Australia and providing to pay any well being or counseling prices, in line with Bloomberg.
Chris Lehane, a former political guide who’s now working as Airbnb’s head of world coverage and communications, was reportedly afraid that the incident can be used to assist run Airbnb out of New York throughout the trip firm’s fiery battle with regulators.
It’s unclear how Lee allegedly acquired a key to the residence, however Lehane and others at Airbnb had been nervous that the vacationer would carry a lawsuit towards the corporate over its key coverage — which doesn’t require hosts to make use of keypad locks that change codes between visitors, or disclose who else has a replica of the important thing, for instance.
The lady’s lawyer, Jim Kirk on the Kirk Agency, negotiated a $7 million settlement two years after the alleged assault that forestalls her from blaming or suing Airbnb or the residence’s host, in line with Bloomberg.
Airbnb spends about $50 million on payouts to visitors for authorized settlements and harm to properties annually, in line with the report.
Airbnb, Lehane and Kirk didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
The beforehand unreported incident was revealed as a part of a broader investigation into Airbnb’s “inner security staff,” which is accountable for cleansing up the corporate’s worst crises.
Former Airbnb security brokers described many different stunning incidents to Bloomberg, together with hosts who found dismembered human stays of their properties or bloodstains.
Some brokers mentioned additionally they needed to console visitors who needed to run from secluded cabins and conceal in wardrobes after being assaulted by hosts, in line with the report.
In one other incident, a bunch reportedly discovered an Airbnb visitor bare in mattress along with his seven-year-old daughter.
Till 2017, each one that signed an settlement with Airbnb over incidents like these was reportedly required to signal a non-disclosure settlement, that means that many different harrowing tales could have gone unreported.
After the #MeToo motion uncovered how such agreements can be utilized to guard abusive firms, Airbnb changed the non-disclosure settlement with a clause saying that “recipients can’t focus on the phrases of their settlement or indicate that it’s an admission of wrongdoing.”
Airbnb additionally employed high-profile political operatives to assist negotiate the potential publicity nightmare of such incidents.
Along with hiring Lehane, who labored as a spokesperson for the Clinton White Home, the corporate introduced on Nick Shapiro, a Nationwide Safety Council advisor to President Barack Obama and deputy chief of workers on the Central Intelligence Company.
“This introduced me again to emotions of confronting actually horrific issues at Langley and within the scenario room on the White Home,” Shapiro, who helped deal with the Midtown rape case, instructed Bloomberg.
In Might 2020, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky reportedly cried on a video name as he introduced he was laying-off 25 percent of the company’s workers — together with 25 of the corporate’s most skilled security brokers.
He later partially reversed the choice and quickly employed again 15 of the employees on time-and-a-half pay, in line with Bloomberg.
Airbnb, which went public in December in a blockbuster IPO valuing the corporate at greater than $109 billion, not too long ago made a light-on-details announcement that it’s working with rental company Vrbo to crack-down on “party houses.”