Fierce

Latina’s Horrifying Uber Kidnapping Story Is A Reminder That Uber’s Vetting Process Is Not Built To Protect Women From Violence

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Last year in July, Elizabeth Suarez broke her ankle, wrist and recieved seven staples in her head after she jumped out of a speeding car to escape an Uber driver trying to kidnap her. This week, she spoke with CNN news about the incident after University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson was murdered by a driver pretending to be an Uber driver.

Speaking to CNN Suarez detailed the events of her attack from last year.

UPDATE 9/11/18***: Here’s the exclusive interview I did with KTNV Channel 13 Action News. They included some helpful…

Posted by Liz Martha on Friday, July 13, 2018

After a night of gambling, Elizabeth Suarez says she ordered an Uber on her phone and headed out to the valet where a car drove up and gestured her over. “I said ‘hi are you here for Liz?'” She explained in an interview with CNN.”And hee goes ‘yeah get in.'”

Suarez, who had driven Uber countless times since college, says she didn’t think any thing of it when she got into the car. “We started driving about five minutes later I get a call from my real Uber and he’s like I’m outside of the Uber where are you?”

The realization that she’d gotten into a car with the wrong person sent her into a complete panic. “I didn’t freeze up I knew I had to get out of the situation because he was in full control he could do whatever he wanted and so I just knew get out, get out, keep thinking on my toes. “

After the man pulled her into a deserted parking lot and demanded she give him her wallet and phone, he began to speed up the car. That’s when Suarez jumped out. She broke her wrist, fractured her ankle and winded up in a hospital where she received seven staples to her scalp. Still, she managed to escape an uncertain but potentially lethal fate.

While the murder of Josephson has brought national attention to the kidnappings and sexual assaults by assailants posing as ride-share drivers, thousands of female riders have experienced assault by drivers.

Last year, a woman employee penned a blog post that alleged the company had created an environment where female staffers were subject to sexual harassment. Last month, three Latina employees sued the company over unequal pay. This time, the ride-sharing company has been hit with a lawsuit that alleges they’ve been negligent on incidents of rape and assault experienced by women using their service.

Uber’s latest lawsuit claims that thousands of female riders have experienced abuse at the hands of the company’s employed drivers.

Last year, a lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco, alleges that female riders had endured rape, harassment and assault from drivers who were working as employees under the ride share company.

A portion of the filed complaint claims that the company skips a general vetting process for its drivers in an attempt to maintain high profits. The lawsuit argues that the company has experienced an ongoing harassment and assault problem as a result and has ultimately put thousands of women at risk. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit are looking to open up the suit to a class-action status.

“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired,” the complaint reads according to USA Today.

The complaint alleges that Uber has avoided regulations typically placed on transportation companies by labeling themselves as a “technology platform.”

The lawsuit underlines the fact that California drivers using private transportation carriers are typically held to a higher “duty of care,” in terms of monitoring and vetting their operators. Meaning, by law, taxi cab and limousine companies are required to run criminal background checks on their drivers and ensure that they are monitored. Uber, according to the claim, avoids these standards by not being licensed as a private transportation carrier.

In an effort to ensure the safety of future female riders, the complaint is demanding that Uber make “drastic changes” to its policies.

Jeanne Christensen, a lawyer on the case, concluded in a statement reported by USA Today that the company “must come forward with information about how many reports it has received about rapes, sexual assaults and gender-motivated harassment to allow consumers to assess whether Uber really does provide safe rides, especially to women.”

The suit has been brought forward by a victim whose accusations of rape against an Uber driver were confirmed by the driver himself.

The plaintiff, known on court documents as Jane Doe, ordered an Uber ride home in October of 2016 after a night of drinking in Miami-Dade County. She was barely conscious when her driver, Nimer Abdullah, took her up to her apartment and raped her in her own bed. Doe reported the rape to police the next morning and Abdullah was ultimately arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery. He eventually confessed to police that he had raped Doe and admitted to being aware that she was drunk while he assaulted her. When Doe contacted Uber about the incident, she was told they would be “taking the appropriate action here.” According to her complaint, the company never confirmed that Abdullah had been deactivated from being a driver for the company. To compensate her, they offered to refund her the $9.51 she had paid for her ride.

The other plaintiff in the case is a Los Angeles resident who said she had also been intoxicated when she ordered an Uber in January of this year. On her ride home, her driver sexually assaulted her in his car and then followed her into her home and raped her.

The attacks on the two plaintiffs were avoidable had Uber done its due diligence, but they’re also just two examples of a stream of similar incidents.

Not only does the lawsuit cite various other cases of sexual assault, but it also highlights hundreds of public tweets from women who had complained about Uber drivers during the #MeToo campaign.

CASA- Check, Ask, Share, be Aware

Check the license plate as well as the car’s make and mode and driver’s picture. Ask the driver to identify you by name before you get into the car. NEVER tell the driver your name, have them confirm it. Share your location and picture of license plate with a friend or family member and be aware of your surroundings, driver’s behavior and travel route.


Read: These Three Latinas Suing Uber For Failing To Give Them The Same Wages As Their Male Counterparts Are Feminist Goals

Recommend this story to your friends who use Uber to remind them to stay safe and click the share button below. 

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

Entertainment

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images

On the heels of Dream Hampton’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series on Lifetime, which detailed multiple sexual abuse allegations against Robert Kelly, it appears the alleged pedophile may finally face some consequences. Hampton’s six-part docuseries, along with the hashtag #MuteRKelly created a firestorm of renewed public interest in what might be at least three decades of possible abuse from the singer R. Kelly. Since February, Kelly has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, spanning incidents across four states: Illinois, Connecticut, California, and New York. 

However, the Eastern District of New York’s federal case against Kelly is just one of many legal battles the singer is up against as he faces what many feel is an overdue reckoning. 

R. Kelly is “irritated” by bail denial according to his lawyer. 

R. Kelly was denied bail pending his trail during an arraignment hearing at the Eastern District federal court in Brooklyn, New York today. The R&B singer pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor, and racketeering. U.S. District Magistrate, Judge Steve Tiscone, who was “extremely troubled” by allegations that Kelly intimidated witnesses, ordered him to remain in custody until the trial. 

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued Kelly should be denied bail. Geddes alleged Kelly paid off witnesses to not appear in court while out on bail during the 2002 child pornography case against him. It should be noted Kelly wasn’t acquitted until six years later — that’s quite a while to be out when charged with such serious crimes. 

The judge agreed with Geddes. Later, Anton told reporters Kelly was “irritated” about the denial. Nevertheless, Kelly will be flown back to Illinois by U.S. Marshals within 48 hours of the hearing. 

Kelly’s alleged victims have waited a long time to see justice. 

The 52-year-old has dodged rumors and allegations of sexual assault since 1997 when Kelly, then 27 years old, was rumored to have married the 15-year-old pop star Aaliyah in secret. Kelly has denied rumors that he married or dated Aaliyah for years. However, in Surviving R. Kelly, Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer of Kelly’s, claims he saw the two together firsthand. 

“On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping,” Cunningham recalled

“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham continued. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”

 In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography but was acquitted of all charges by a jury in 2008. Gloria Allred, who represents three Jane Does in the Eastern District’s case, said there are reportedly 13 victims in total involved with all of Kelly’s cases.

It appears the tides are turning for R. Kelly after decades of organizing and sounding the alarm largely by black women. 

The “Ignition” singer has multiple cases against him. 

In February, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse which alleges that from 1998 to 2010, Kelly filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with minors. In July, federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted Kelly on 18 charges including child exploitation and violating the Mann Act by coercing and transporting women and girls across state lines for illicit sexual activity or sexual assault. 

Not everyone is convinced of R. Kelly’s guilt. 

While many have joined the #MuteRKelly movement, others remain unconvinced of the singer’s guilt. Kelly’s two girlfriends Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage appeared at the arraignment. They weren’t his only supporters — a group of women, one wearing a “Free R. Kelly” t-shirt, appeared in solidarity outside of the courthouse. 

One of the women, 50-year-old Ruthie Castro, told CNN, “I’ve always supported him for many years,” and remains convinced of his innocence.  

Many believe that Kelly uses his fame and falses promises of stardom to attract young, vulnerable girls only to coerce them into joining a cult-like harem. Kelly’s “mind control” techniques were revealed in a BuzzFeed News exposé, which seemed to further fan the flames of public and legal fury in the singer’s direction. 

In an era where we have a racist reality TV star as President of the United States, it is all the more important we remain critical and ever-scrutinizing of any man with a cult-like personality who adorns himself with young, starstruck women. 

[Plot Thickens!] The Disneyland Brawl Just Got A Lot More Dramatic As Family Faces Years In Prison For Magic Meltdown

Things That Matter

[Plot Thickens!] The Disneyland Brawl Just Got A Lot More Dramatic As Family Faces Years In Prison For Magic Meltdown

The most magical place in the world is proving that when it comes to your petty drama, Disneyland isn’t having it.

It was just revealed that the three adults who were involved in a dramatic family physical dispute at Disneyland earlier this month could face years in prison.

In case you missed it, the three adults in question were involved in a brutal fight captured on video a few weeks ago at Disneyland. Footage of the event showed a man in a red shirt throwing punches at several different women and men. Now the man in red, identified as Avery Desmond-Edwinn Robinson, has been charged with five felonies and nine misdemeanors according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

In short, Disney is ready to deliver a one-two punch to violence that threatens peace at its park.

According to the police, Avery allegedly attacked his sister, brother-in-law, and girlfriend at the park.

SJP35 Productions / YouTube

In doing so, police say, he endangered his child and three other children who were at Disneyland with the family. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office says that upon leaving the park, he also allegedly threatened to kill members of his family and attempted to assault a Disneyland employee with his car.

The charges do not stop with Avery however.

Avery’s sister, Andrea Nicole Robinson, 40, was charged with five misdemeanors.

Those charges include four misdemeanor charges of battery which is related to her attack on Avery and his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Andrea’s husband Daman Petrie, 44, is faced with one misdemeanor count of battery. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office says that he is being accused of assaulting Avery’s girlfriend by punching her in the face.

If convicted, Avery faces a maximum of seven years and fourth months in state prison. Andrea could get up to two-and-a-half years. while her husband Petrie could face a maximum of six months in jail.

According to KTLA, Avery pled not guilty to all the charges against him. Whether or not his sister and her husband have done the same has yet to be revealed.

If you’ve seen the video, you’ve probably only had the emotional bandwidth to ask this question.

Credit: @boopluvv / Twitter

Someone insulted someone’s mother, another mother was thrown to the ground, and it seems like everyone is just going at each other, regardless of gender or relation. It was a sad, and confusing, scene to witness.

The narrative of the story is that they are related, hence the fact that they stayed together despite the fighting.

It doesn’t seem like it’s two separate families defending their own. They seem to be related to each other, which makes the fight exceptionally sad.

If you’re still confused, fear not, the Internet has provided a flow chart.

Credit: @dipbih / Twitter

None of this is confirmed by the family or authorities. We’re all in this mess together. From here on out, the term “we” will be used to describe the collective Internet “we.” We think White Shirt girl, Red Shirt and Black Shirt Girl are all siblings. Their mom is the Mama in the wheelchair.

White Shirt Girl dissed Red Shirt Guy’s girlfriend (Tan Shirt Girl).

Credit: SJP35 Productions / YouTube

Red Shirt Guy clearly has the biggest temper of them all, and resorted to physically attacking (what we think is) his sister. Her boyfriend (White Shirt Guy) stepped in to defend her. Then they start dancing around like they’re in a boxing ring. Black Shirt girl tries to intervene to get them to stop fighting. Then White Shirt guy just punches Tan Shirt Girl (Red Shirt’s girlfriend) straight in the nose. Now it’s really getting heated between Red Shirt Guy and White Shirt Guy.

While trying to intervene, Mama gets knocked down in the fight.

Credit: SJP35 Productions / YouTube

Now Red Shirt Guy is yelling, “I’m ready to go to jail tonight. I’m ready to go to jail.” Then Red Shirt Guy sees White Shirt Guy and starts yelling “fired on my motherf***ing b****, put your hands around my b****!” White Shirt Guy starts retreating, but Red Shirt Guy pulls White Shirt Guy’s girlfriend (also wearing a white shirt) by her hair.

Things start to calm down until Black Shirt Girl tells Red Shirt Guy that his girlfriend (Tan Shirt Girl) hit his Mama.

Credit: SJP35 Productions / YouTube

He turns to his girlfriend saying, “You hit my mama?” Tan shirt tries to explain that it was an accident (it was), but he punches her straight in the face. Then he starts violently pounding on her on the ground while a group of people tries to lift him off her. He pulls her hair along with him. Red Shirt Guy is finally restrained in a chokehold, and then the security finally shows up.

This whole time, the only Disney employee intervening is an older custodian.

Credit: @etherealtb / Twitter

Our hearts dropped for fear this older man would be violently attacked but he thankfully wasn’t. There are memes on memes of other Disney employees in costume just standing around.

Other folks are getting philosophical about the many bystanders who did nothing.

Credit: @lexiivilla / Twitter

Magic Mountain is side-eyeing this whole brawl so hard right now.

Meanwhile, Universal fans are taking the moment to show appreciation for their theme park of choice.

Credit: @ladante15 / Twitter

For all the shade amusement park goers throw at each other, we still don’t understand how this mega-fight happened in Toontown.

This one media outlet’s narration has truly tickled The Internet.

Credit: @Iffy_Mae / Twitter

This reporter describes the fight with vivid detail. Rewatching the fight with narration that sounds like “but then, he slapped the daylights out of her,” is truly rewarding if you’re into that kind of thing.

The family maintains it never happened.

Credit: @j_t_starwars / Twitter

The family was all released once they all told park authorities that the fight never happened. Once the video footage came out, however, their questionable loyalty didn’t matter.  Orange County prosecutors are currently reviewing the video to determine whether criminal charges will be filed. If they decide to file felony charges, the county district attorney’s office will also assess misdemeanor counts. If they don’t find any grounds for felony charges, the Anaheim city attorney would take over to pursue misdemeanor charges.

You can watch the fight below.

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