An Airbnb nightmare has been uncovered by a young Massachusetts man who claims his host locked him up and sexually assaulted him.
Airbnb is an emerging website for people to list, find, and rent lodging, with over 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries, according to Wikipedia. Now, they are at the center of this horror story.
On July 4, 19-year-old Jacob Lopez arrived in Madrid and met his Airbnb host at a metro station near the apartment in which he would be staying during his time in the Spanish capital. Lopez said he used the company to find lodging because of the great experience he had, using them during a visit to Brazil last year.
Lopez tells MSNBC that when they arrived at the apartment, his Airbnb nightmare began. The host, who was born a man but lives as a woman, allegedly tried to kiss him repeatedly and, when he rebuffed her after being asked to take off his pants, she threatened to throw him out without his belongings.
The teen says he was locked in and could hear the host rattling things around in the kitchen and he thought she may be armed. At this point he started to call his mother, Micaela Giles, who immediately tried to reach Airbnb so they could help her son. However, the crazed woman had disconnected internet service, and no information about the man’s location was provided by the company.
In the meantime, Lopez was terrified about what he would have to do to escape his Airbnb nightmare. He soon realized escaping was not an option, and after the sexual assault, he came up with a story about how he was meeting with friends who knew where he was staying and would come looking for him.
“I was telling myself that I was going to have to kill her or she was going to kill me. Thoughts that should never have to go through anyone’s mind started to come into mine. How are you going to live with yourself the rest of your life knowing that you killed someone? But if you don’t, then you won’t have a life.”
The young Massachusetts man was finally able to escape with his belongings, but his Airbnb nightmare still haunts him. The company said the horrific experience was unfortunate, but was one of 800,000 rentals around the world that weekend.
Airbnb employees believed the assault had already taken place when Lopez’s mother called, according to Nick Papas, a company spokesman. Giles says she told them he was about to be assaulted on her first call, but later told them the attack had already happened. Papas said in a statement the company can learn from this incident.
“We are clarifying our policies so that our team will always contact law enforcement if we are made aware of an emergency situation in progress. Safety is our No. 1 priority, and we want to get our hosts and guests as much help as possible.”
As far as Lopez’s family, they suggest to investigate the host thoroughly and make sure they have all the pertinent information handy, as well as a way to contact local authorities. Giles is proud of her son for coming forward with the Airbnb nightmare to help others.
[Image via New York Times]