Airbnb paid Australian woman $ 9 million to avoid blame for alleged rape

CONTENT DISCLAIMER: This article deals with rape.

A massive investigation of Bloomberg Business Week found out how a crack team of around 100 specially trained agents work for Airbnb to ensure incidents like rape don’t tarnish the company’s branding.

This was all revealed by the case of a 29-year-old Australian woman who was allegedly raped in her Airbnb accommodation while visiting New York City in 2015. After returning home after celebrating New Years at a bar, the woman didn’t notice a man standing in the shadow of his dwelling, holding a kitchen knife.

It is alleged that the man then attacked the woman and raped her in her bed, before running away with his phone.

Police arrived at the Airbnb an hour later, as the alleged rapist was returning to the apartment. Police found a knife, one of the woman’s earrings and a set of apartment keys in her backpack.

Officers took the woman’s details. Meanwhile, Airbnb has gone into crisis mode.

“It brought me back to the feeling that I was facing some really horrible problems at Langley. [where the CIA is based] and in the situation room of the White House ”, former intelligence agent Nick shapiro, who had just started her new job at Airbnb at the time, said Business week.

To the company’s credit, the security team mobilized to accommodate the woman in a hotel, paid for her mother to travel to New York City, brought them both home and offered to cover all of them. current medical or counseling costs.

But it’s what happened behind the scenes that tells the story of a company obsessed with protecting its image, even if it means that such stories never see the light of day.

According to the report, Airbnb took someone to court to make sure the company was not mentioned, and even paid the alleged rape survivor US $ 7 million (over AU $ 9 million ) as part of an agreement in which she said she would not discuss the settlement “or implicate any liability or liability” on Airbnb’s part as a company.

An Airbnb spokesperson has since denied that the company bought the woman’s silence, with Benjamin Brait story The Guardian: “In cases of sexual assault, in the settlements we have reached, survivors can speak freely about their experiences.

Lee junior, 24, was ultimately charged with predatory sexual assault relating to the incident, but pleaded not guilty. He is now in detention and awaiting further examination, having been found mentally unfit to stand trial.

Business week was able to piece it all together from court documents and confidential files, and speaking to eight former Airbnb security team members and 45 other current and former employees. The woman allegedly raped refused to speak to Business week for this report, the publication said.

At the time of the incident, the hospitality industry was pushing for tighter restrictions on Airbnb in New York City, and insiders said the company feared the incident could be used to kick them out of town if it. was revealed.

Team members, spread across cities like Dublin, Montreal, Singapore, said Business week that they are supposed to fire a “money cannon” to help victims of serious incidents.

“I had situations where I had to hang up and go cry,” a former Airbnb security officer told the magazine.

“That’s all you can do.”

According to Business week, Airbnb’s security team had to deal with things like violence, rape, cleaning up blood stains from carpets, and even a case where the guest was found naked in bed with the seven year old child of the host.

In fact, cases have already been reported around the world, including a family who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Chile and a host who raped and photographed guests in Barcelona.

The lawyer of a family whose 23-year-old son, Raymon Hill, was gunned down at an Airbnb house party in California, claiming the company was more interested in the news cycle than the actual victims.

“The only thing that really motivates them is the threat or potential threat of bad public relations or a nightmare in the press,” the lawyer said. Jesse Danoff Recount Business week.

In this case, Airbnb said it has already paid the bill for the man’s funeral.

Overall, the company says less than 0.1% of all stays result in reported safety concerns. But keep in mind that this represents 0.1% of over 200 million bookings per year.

He also insisted that his priority in each of these cases was to take care of the victims.

“People are naturally unpredictable, and as much as we try, sometimes very bad things happen. We all know you can’t stop it all, but it all depends on how you react, and when that happens you have to do it right, and that’s what we try to do every time, ”he said. said Airbnb’s head of global operations. tara heap Recount Business week.

“We go the extra mile to make sure anyone impacted on our platform is taken care of. We don’t really care about the brand and image component. This stuff will take care of itself as long as you do the right thing.

You can (and should) read the full survey, which explains how the company started its crisis management team, at: Bloomberg Business Week.

Help is available.

If you need immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you would like to talk to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline at 1800 737 732 or chatting on the internet.

Less than 25? You can join Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chatting on the internet.

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