Airbnb vows to support sexually assaulted guest 'in any way'

Airbnb's Nick Shapiro vows to support Leslie Lapayowker who alleged a host over sexual assault.

Airbnb has expressed sentiment towards Leslie Lapayowker, the woman who filed a lawsuit against the home rental company for negligence after the plaintiff alleged that her host sexually assaulted her.

In an emailed statement to IBTimes SG, Airbnb's global head of trust and risk management, Nick Shapiro, strongly condemned the awful incident that transpired inside the studio apartment of its host, Carlos Del Olmo, in July 2016 in Los Angeles. In view of its regulations, Airbnb has seen it necessary to remove the host from the platform.

"We are outraged by the reports of what happened to our guest, and we immediately removed this host from our platform", states Shapiro. "The abhorrent behavior described has no place in our community and we will not tolerate it".

He adds, "Nothing like this should ever happen to anyone and we can't imagine how hard this has been for our guest".

In a court filing at the San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday, the 51-year-old New Mexico native Lapayowker accused Del Olmo of sexually harassing her at his studio apartment attached to his Los Angeles home in July 2016. In the same month, Lapayowker lodged a complaint to Airbnb regarding Del Olmo's misconduct. However, Airbnb is said to have refused to file charges against the host due to insufficient evidence.

Lapayowker said in her sworn statement that Airbnb had been negligent for refusing to take necessary action over the matter and for allowing her to lease Del Olmo's apartment who she found out was detained in Florida for a battery charge and domestic violence. Per Airbnb's regulations, both guests and hosts are subject to extensive background checks to ensure neither tenants nor lessors are in the terrorist watch lists and sex offenders' registries and are not felony convicts and persons with significant misdemeanours.

Despite that, Airbnb has vowed to back Lapayowker in her battle. Shapiro says, "We have been trying to support her in any way we can and we will continue to do so", says Shapiro.

Lapayowker's lawyer Teresa Li previously expressed that Airbnb is misleading its guests. She says, "They lure you in and give you this false sense of security". Shapiro, however, has underscored that Airbnb is taking the necessary steps to ensure their community's safety. "The safety of the Airbnb community is the single most important thing we work on every day", says Shapiro.