Woman Who Was Raped And Kidnapped By Lyft Driver Suing Rideshare Company

Photo: Getty
Who Is Alison Turkos? New Details On Lyft Rape And Kidnapping Survivor Suing Rideshare Company

Alison Turkos only wanted to get home one night in 2017. She called for a Lyft and expected to get a 15-minute ride back to her New York apartment. Instead, her driver held her at gunpoint, took her across state lines to New Jersey, and he and two other men gang-raped her. She reported the attack to the police and Lyft. The police transferred the case to the FBI for a sex trafficking investigation. Lyft demanded that she pay the cost of the ride. 

Now Turkos is going public with her story and bringing suit against the rideshare giant, along with five other women who were assaulted by Lyft drivers. Who is Alison Turkos? Keep reading for all the details. 

1. The worst night of my life

Turkos was in a Lyft car returning home after a night out with friends, which, as she put it in a Medium post "...was supposed to be the safer option than walking home or taking the subway late at night alone." But ABC reports that she noticed the driver going the wrong way, something she thought he was doing to try and increase the cost of the ride. The driver began behaving more aggressively as the ride went on and Turkos tried to exit the car but the child locks were engaged and she couldn't get out. Then the driver pulled a gun on her. "That was when I realized that this was not just someone trying to scam $20 or $30 out of me," Turkos told ABC News. "It was going to be the worst night of my life."

After that, the driver took her across state lines into New Jersey and, along with at least two other men, gang-raped her. It would take almost a year for her to put the pieces of her attack together. 

2. Activist and writer

Turkos is no stranger to the world of feminism and social justice. She works for an abortion-rights group and has been a contributor to reproductive justice publication Rewire, where her biography says "Alison Turkos is a board member of the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), joining the board in August 2011. She works full time as a Development Assistant at a reproductive rights non-profit, and is involved in feminist activism, reproductive, gender and sexual justice work in New York City."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Alison Turkos (@alisonturkos) on Nov 5, 2018 at 5:24am PST

Turkos is a writer and activist in New York.

3. Something wasn't right

The morning after the attack, Turkos saw that her ride from the night before had cost her $106 and had taken 79 minutes. She was perplexed because the ride was supposed to take 15 minutes and cost about $12, Vice reports. As he day wore on, she noticed physical symptoms that she could explain such as severe vaginal bleeding. She sought medical attention, which confirmed that she had been raped. The Verge writes, "Turkos realized that she had been held at gunpoint by her Lyft driver and repeatedly raped by at least three men, as they cheered and high fived each other, according to court documents. The rape kit produced the semen of at least two men on her clothing and the case has since been transferred from the New York Police Department to the FBI as a sex-trafficking investigation."

RELATED:  Alarming Details About The Woman Who Was Raped By An Uber Driver And Told Him She Had HIV To Make Him Stop

4. Going to the police and Lyft

Two days after the assault, Turkos reported the attack to the police and a criminal investigation began. But even before that, she had been in touch with Lyft about the excessive charges for her ride. Before she realzed what had happened to her, she thought it was simply a mistake. But within 24 hours, she informed them that the driver had kidnapped and assaulted her. In her Medium post she writes, "Lyft “apologized for the inconvenience that I’d been through” and informed me they “appreciated the voice of their customers and were committed to doing their best in giving me the support that I needed”. However, to my utter shock, Lyft informed me that I would still be expected to pay for the original estimated cost of my ride and I would be “unpaired” from the driver in the future — I’d later learn he remained a Lyft driver."

Turkos went on to write, "Lyft callously forced me to pay $12.81 for my kidnapping and rape and has allowed a predator to continue driving for not months, but years — proving once again they value profits over customer safety."

RELATED: Scary New Details About The Man Who Raped And Murdered Women He Met On Tinder And Ride-Sharing Apps

5. Turkos and others sue Lyft 

This week, Turkos announced that she has joined five other women who were assaulted by Lyft drivers and are suing the rideshare company for failing to adequately screen potential drivers and failing to address what they call "the sexual predator crisis" on the platform, according to CBS news. The suit also accuses Lyft of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement. 

"Our hope and our client's hope is that, in holding Lyft accountable, other women will not suffer the same fate as Alison and countless others," Rachel Abrams, the attorney representing the plaintiffs said. "We commend Alison for her courage in coming forward and making her fight for justice public." 

In addition, Levin Simes Abrams, the law firm representing Turkos, said: "We have filed 18 complaints for sexual assault victims against Lyft to date. We currently represent 68 women that have been sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers and that number continues to grow weekly."  

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Turkos is suing Lyft.

6. Lyft's response to the allegations

In addition to charging Turkos for the cost of her ride, they also issued a statement this week that most observers say utterly fails to acknowledge the horror of what one of their drivers did.  "What this rider describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure. The unfortunate fact remains that 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. In this case, the driver passed the New York City TLC's background check and was permitted to drive." 

The TLC background check is the standard check for any commercial passenger driver in New York City. It is a fingerprint-based criminal background check. MSN reports that the requirements also include a "drug test, a defensive-driving course, a 24-hour driver education course and a TLC exam." Because the driver has not been arrested at this time, there are no grounds for NYC to take away his permit. However, Lyft could have terminated their relationship with an accused rapist driver if they had chosen to do so. 

CBS notes that last week, Lyft issued updates concerning its safety features. The services will make its drivers undergo mandatory safety training exercises and will start using daily continuous background check monitoring and in-app emergency assistance. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.