Airbnb has found itself in trouble, yet again as the company is being sued by a California woman who was allegedly assaulted while staying with a man who was rated a "Superhost" on the site.
Leslie Lapayowker filed her case against the company on Thursday, claiming it was negligent in failing to thoroughly vet its hosts, Jezebel reports.
Her alleged attacker, Carols Del Olmo, had positive reviews and a high rating, which is what led to Lapayowker's decision to rent the studio on his property in Los Angeles for a month while searching for a permanent residence of her own.
She said she left Del Olmo's home after three days, alleging that he openly used drugs, made suggestive comments, regularly screamed at his son, and once banged on her windshield while she was sitting in her vehicle.
Things only got worse from there. When she returned to the house to retrieve her laptop and inform Del Olmo she was leaving, he allegedly told her he had something important to show her in the studio she had been staying in, and proceeded to sexually harass her.
He exposed himself to her and demanded that she touch and "taste it," according to Jezebel. He also forcefully kissed her, shoving his tongue down her throat. Afterward, he reportedly taunted Lapayowker by telling her, "don’t forget to leave me a positive review on Airbnb.”
Del Olmo reportedly claims what happened between them was consensual and accused Lapayowker of lying.
There was once a domestic violence case filed against Del Olmo in which he allegedly pulled a woman's hair and dragged her during an argument. However, he was never prosecuted or convicted, which is how his sordid past slipped through the cracks of Airbnb's background check.
“The abhorrent behavior described has no place in our community and we will not tolerate it. We have been trying to support her in any way we can and we will continue to do so," Airbnb reportedly said in a statement to The Guardian.
Del Olmo has since been removed from the site's host list.
While there are always risks associated with staying in the home of a stranger, sites such as Airbnb should be working diligently, day in and day out, to minimize those risks as much as possible.
Whether Lapayowker wins or loses her lawsuit, perhaps this case will at least lead to more extensive background checks for hosts and renters alike.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Gabrielle Lurie