Suit: Lyft fails to protect riders from sex assaults

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Lyft is facing a new lawsuit that claims the ride-sharing company has not done enough to protect riders from sexual assaults across California.

Attorneys representing 14 women filed a criminal complaint in San Francisco Superior Court claiming that their clients suffered rapes and sexual assaults by Lyft drivers.

The attorneys claim Lyft concealed the true extent of sexual assaults that occurred in their vehicles.

“Lyft’s response to this sexual predator crisis amongst Lyft drivers has been appallingly inadequate,” the lawsuit writes.

The attorneys called on Lyft to make safety improvements, including adding audio recording devices in vehicles, adding a panic button in the app so riders can call for help, and improving how drivers are screened. The attorneys are also urging Lyft to automatically report any crimes to police.

Victims came forward publicly at a press conference Wednesday to talk about their experiences.  One woman, identified as Kim, said when a Lyft driver attempted to sexually assault her, she was able to escape and call police. She said she joined the lawsuit because she does not want more women to be victimized.

“My safety was violated and the consequences affect me every day mentally, emotionally, and physically.  I am overwhelmed by Lyft’s negligence to keep its riders safe. Security is not a privilege, but an inherent human right,” Kim said.

KRON reached out to Lyft for comment Wednesday.

Lyft’s head of trust & safety, Mary Winfield, said, “What the victims describe is terrifying and has no place in the Lyft community. 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. As a platform committed to providing safe transportation, we hold ourselves to a higher standard by designing products and policies to keep out bad actors, make riders and drivers feel safe, and react quickly if and when an incident does occur. Our commitment is stronger than ever, as we dedicate more resources in our continued effort to ensure our riders and drivers have the safest possible experience.”

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