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A woman who says she was kidnapped by a Lyft driver and gang-raped is suing the ride-hailing company, alleging that it does not do enough to keep its passengers safe from assault.
A lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco superior court describes Alison Turkos’ Lyft driver kidnapping her at gunpoint, driving her across state lines from New York City to New Jersey, and gang-raping her with two other men in a park in 2017.
Turkos reported to Lyft that her ride went off-course ― it had gone more than 15 miles outside her original route and taken an hour too long. Two days later, she also reported the kidnapping and rape to the police, and the ongoing investigation was eventually transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The trauma of the assault has caused Turkos “excruciating pain and suffering,” the lawsuit says.
“What should have been a 15-minute drive, turned into an 80-minute living nightmare,” Turkos wrote in a Medium post published Tuesday. “Lyft has continuously ignored and dismissed the stories of victims like me … I know now that nothing will change unless I change it myself.”
The lawsuit alleges that Lyft’s response to sexual assault and rape allegations against its drivers is “appallingly inadequate.” It claims the driver who attacked Turkos remained on Lyft’s platform under a different name even after law enforcement contacted the company about its investigation into the rape.
Lyft told HuffPost that the driver in question has been removed from the platform, but did not say when, and that the company worked with law enforcement as they investigated the 2017 incident.
“What this rider describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure,” Lyft said in a statement. “The unfortunate fact remains that one in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives — behavior that’s unacceptable for our society and on our platform.”
Earlier this month, 14 women who said they were raped, sexually assaulted or harassed while using Lyft also filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that Lyft had received nearly 100 reports of such violations over two years and had not adequately responded to them.
Both that suit and Tuesday’s claim that Lyft’s background checks for drivers are not thorough enough. They say Lyft could be implementing additional security features, including surveillance cameras that film during rides.
Lyft stated Tuesday that the driver in question had passed the New York City Taxi and Limousine Company background check and pointed to its new safety features.
Last week, Lyft updated its safety policies, including by providing a new feature that requires a company representative to check in with a customer if their ride appears to have an unexplained delay, as well as an option to call 911 from the app.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.