Should Airbnb have reacted differently to the report of sexual assault in Madrid? : SFist


Another week another horror story about the sharing economy making someone somewhere in the world a victim. This time it’s the story of 19-year-old Jacob Lopez who traveled to Madrid and rented a room from an Airbnb host who turned out to be a trans woman who ultimately sexually assaulted him. You may have heard of the story, which broke via the New York Times over the weekend, and it was used in an opinion piece to argue that Airbnb, like the mainstream hotel industry, might consider taking greater responsibility in situations where a guest might be in danger.

In Lopez’s case, his side of the story was that he had been locked in a room by the Airbnb host who “urged him to submit to a sexual act.” Frightened he called his mother back in the US who in turn called Airbnb, and they didn’t give him the host’s address and referred her to the local police, which she didn’t. could join. After that, her calls to her Airbnb contact went to voicemail. Meanwhile, in Madrid, this Airbnb host allegedly “slammed knives in the kitchen drawer” and told Lopez he had better “take off his pants unless he wants to sleep in the street without his belongings “. He didn’t reveal exactly what happened next, but he was assaulted and considered killing the woman before she tried to kill him. He managed to escape by making up a story about meeting friends nearby who knew where he was staying and who would come and try to find him unless he found them first. He is now in trauma therapy in his home state of Massachusetts.

The host told police she hadn’t done anything wrong and everything that had happened was consensual sex, and Lopez was just transphobic. As the Times notes, we are all more inclined to believe Lopez, because “if [the host is telling the truth], filing a false police report and telling the story publicly would be an unlikely way to bury an unfortunate experience. “

The Boston Globe contacted Airbnb about Lopez’s case, and they responded by saying that of the 70,000 Airbnb guests in Spain that same weekend, Lopez’s situation was “unique”. safety record is what we are looking for. “

The company says it now ensures that all of its telephone operators know how to call the police directly themselves when a crime is in progress.

Airbnb of course doesn’t have its own police force, or field security personnel in every location, but the affair is certainly frightening that would (again) make renting rooms to strangers twice think twice. Not all Airbnb hosts, of course, can be vetted until enough guests have stayed with them and have complained. But the responsibility has to lie somewhere when they take advantage of it, right?

Related: Video: San Francisco Airbnb Breaks Into Locked Room And Steals $ 35,000 From Host’s Stuff [Updated]

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