September 19, 2019



A woman who says she was sexually assaulted after getting in a Lyft is now blaming the ride-hailing giant for allegedly mishandling her report. Alison Turkos claims she was kidnapped at gunpoint by her Lyft driver in 2017, and sexually assaulted by at least two men. And after she reported her assault, Turkos claims, Lyft still charged her for part of the ride and allowed her alleged assailant to keep driving.

Turkos said the person she once was ceased to exist after what she says happened to her in 2017. She claims she hopped in a Lyft after a night out with friends, when the driver locked the doors and wouldn't let her out.

"The minute that the gun gets pulled, and it's so close to my face, um, the first thought that came to my mind is that 'I'm not going to get home safe and I'm probably not going to get home alive,'" Turkos told CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste.

Turkos said that her ride was originally supposed to last about 15 minutes. Instead, she said, over the course of 79 minutes she was kidnapped by her driver, driven from New York to New Jersey, and assaulted.

According to Turkos' lawsuit, a rape kit administered after her ride confirmed "evidence of semen from two men on the clothing" she wore that night. The suit added that she initially "blocked" out what happened and reported to Lyft only that her driver had taken her "outside of her route and across state lines."

After the alleged assault, Turkos said, Lyft treated her "callously."

Lyft's first response to her report was that "this never happened," Turkos said. "The next day, they send me an email that says, 'We've refunded you $93.99. We are still charging you $12.81' … "Lyft charged me $12.81 to be kidnapped across state lines, gang raped and trafficked."

Turkos says she filed a police report after she was allegedly raped. This week, the law firm representing her filed five lawsuits, and says it currently represents around 68 women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers. Just two weeks ago, 14 women filed suits against Lyft, alleging it mishandled sexual assault complaints, and in some cases, allowed drivers to continue to work.

"The driver was able to make a new profile, update a new profile photo and update a new name, and was still driving for Lyft," Turkos said.

Lyft told CBS News that what Turkos "describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure." The company added that in "this year alone," they've launched 14 new safety features including continuous background check monitoring and in-app emergency assistance.

Turkos said she's not buying it. "It's just an attempt of smoke and mirrors to once again present an assumption of safety when you're stepping into a car," she said.

Lyft added that Turkos originally reported the incident as an indirect route, not a safety issue. The company said it deactivated Turkos' driver, but it wouldn't say when. No one has been arrested or charged for assaulting Turkos, and the FBI is now handling the investigation.


Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at www.crimevictimscenter.org for news, information and resources in your community.


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