Woman from Wellesley says she was attacked and seriously injured by three men in an Airbnb rental in Barcelona

Yordanova spent 11 days in the hospital and never returned to her freshman program abroad in Ireland.

“It was supposed to be the best semester of my life,” said Yordanova, who had to wear a steel device pierced in her skull for two months and still has a titanium rod in her right arm since the 2018 incident. “It turned out to be the worst. “

Today, Yordanova is suing the multibillion-dollar online vacation rental company, arguing that Airbnb failed to provide her with a safe place to stay when she arrives in Barcelona.

An Airbnb spokesperson did not comment on Yordanova’s lawsuit, but confirmed that her host was “removed from Airbnb” after the incident. He also sent a link to a list of security measures the company has taken to keep guests safe, including “limiting disruptive gatherings” and offering tools to protect women traveling alone.

“And we think our efforts are working. Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, only 0.086% of trips included a safety issue reported by a host or guest, ”the company said in a press release sent to The Globe in response to questions about the incident. .

But, for a company as large as Airbnb, even a small percentage of trips equals big numbers. Bloomberg reported last month that Airbnb receives 200,000 safety complaints per year. In October 2018, The Globe described the ordeal of two Boston medical residents who were woken up in the middle of the night by their Airbnb host, who crashed through a window of the guesthouse they were renting. . It had been rated a “superhost” and had excellent reviews.

Bloomberg reported that Airbnb has spent millions of dollars to keep customer complaints out of public view, including payment $ 7 million to a tourist who said she was raped at an Airbnb rental in Manhattan. Bloomberg reported that a secret security team is allowed to spend any amount to handle crises in their rentals.

One of those incidents took place in Barcelona, ​​where a host lured two American women into his home and raped them, according to the report.

“I want people to know that this can happen. You can get an Airbnb and you can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time ”, Yordanova said in an interview. “I want to have some sort of closure. I know I’ll never make it with the people who hurt me physically. But I can get the conclusion from the people who put me up in the first place – it’s Airbnb. “

Yordanova was a junior at Simmons University in the fall of 2018, enrolled in a program in Dublin when a group of friends decided to take a side trip to Spain. She left a day earlier. She wasn’t looking for a fancy place, just a place where she could spend the night.

When she arrived at the building around 9:30 p.m. and her host, a Russian woman named Tamara, wasn’t there to let her in, she panicked. She did not have cell phone service, so she asked tourists to help her. After a series of frantic calls to Airbnb, she was put in touch with Tamara, who told her it was too late to enter the original apartment. Tamara then directed her to another apartment where she said she could have a room for the night for an additional charge. She rushed forward, grateful that she had a place to go.

There, Yordanova said, Tamara led her to a room that, in violation of Airbnb policy, did not have a lock. Three young men were in another room in the same apartment.

After eating something, Yordanova said, she went straight to bed.

In the middle of the night, she woke up to find the three men carrying her from her bed, according to a lawsuit she filed late last month in Norfolk Superior Court against Airbnb. The men allegedly dragged her down a stucco staircase, but she screamed so loudly that they dropped her on the steps. Yordanova, according to the lawsuit, “fell and rolled down the stairs, suffering severe injuries and extreme pain and suffering.”

Neighbors heard her screaming and called the police, who found her in an alleyway outside the building.

Yordanova, who still suffers from the physical and psychological effects of the attack, finds it too painful to describe the actual assault, said her lawyer, George A. McLaughlin. She was not sexually assaulted, he said, but believes she was the victim of an attempted kidnapping.

“They might have thought it would be a quick grab and throw her in a van,” said McLaughlin, who filed the complaint with attorney Joel E. Faller on June 30. “The only problem is that she was fighting and screaming and they let her go. The lights were on in the neighborhood.

Yordanova was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries – her neck was fractured in two places and she had a broken arm, according to the costume. She spent four days in intensive care and another week after that in the hospital.

A titanium rod has been placed inside his arm and will likely stay there, according to the lawsuit. She has large visible scars.

But the neck injuries were worse. Because the surgery was considered too risky, doctors instead screwed a device called a halo into her head to keep her upper body stable, essentially immobilizing her for two months.

“The hospital was right on the boardwalk with the ocean outside,” she said. “It was so beautiful, but I was in a place of such distress. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to step into the sand.

Police questioned Yordanova at the hospital and showed her pictures of men that matched the description she gave them. But she didn’t recognize any of the men in the photos.

According to the report, “it was not possible to identify” the alleged attackers. “However, if in the future further prosecution evidence is obtained,” the case will continue.

Tamara, whose last name is unknown, told a friend of Yordanova, who stopped by the apartment to collect her things, that she thinks Yordanova jumped out of a window, according to McLaughlin.

For its part, Airbnb stopped posting rental listings for Tamara and offered Yordanova a token settlement, but declined the offer, McLaughlin said. He said he was offered $ 50,000. The Airbnb spokesperson said he had no information about a settlement offer.

“I was shocked at how cavalier they were about it,” McLaughlin said. “They pooped it. “We have no records. It didn’t happen, ”he said.

Yordanova, who was taking pre-med classes in hopes of becoming a doctor, was finally able to return to school and complete her bachelor’s degree, taking additional classes so that she could graduate with her class in 2020. She now works as a technician at a Boston hospital.

But the experience shook her so much that she still struggles to function. She panics when there is an emergency in the hospital and starts to shake and sweat when in a crowd.

“If they had just found me a registered place and made sure the place was safe, none of this would have happened. I was not safe. I have never been safe, ”she said.

Andrea Estes can be contacted at [email protected]

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