Things That Matter

At Least 4 Women Step Forward To Accuse Donald Trump Of Sexual Assault

The flood gates have opened.

What was that about just locker room talk? As of this writing, at least four women have come out saying that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them. By the time you finish reading this, the number could likely be higher. It all started with the New York Times dropping the above bombshell. Two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Cooks, told the paper of record that the GOP candidate groped and forced himself on to them when they first met him. Jessica Leeds claims her unsavory incident occurred in the early 1980s, when she was working as a traveling businesswoman. For Ms. Cooks, her gross encounter with Trump took place in 2005, the same year of Donald Trump’s now infamous “grab them by the p***y” video was recorded.

They aren’t the only ones.

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After the second debate, Cassandra Searle, Miss Washington 2013, went on Facebook to denounce Trump. In a comment on her own post, according to Rolling Stone, Searle also accused Trump of groping her.

And then there’s this:

The same day that the NYT published their story, the Palm Beach Post ran an exclusive interview with Mindy McGillivrey, who claims Trump groped her 13 years ago at his Mar-A-Lago resort.

“All of a sudden I felt a grab, a little nudge. I think it’s Ken’s camera bag, that was my first instinct,” McGillivrey told the Palm Beach Post. “I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned.’’

Oh, and just in case you don’t believe that Trump is truly a scumbag, here’s former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford validating another claim that Trump was pervy with a bunch of teenagers.

What was that about just locker room talk?

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Woman Claims Lyft Charged Her For A Ride That Resulted In Her Severe Gang Rape

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Woman Claims Lyft Charged Her For A Ride That Resulted In Her Severe Gang Rape

Being a woman means you’re always in danger. Predators lurk everywhere and for Alison Turkos, unfortunately, a Lyft ride home would become every woman’s worst nightmare. Turkos, among dozens of other women, is suing Lyft after she says her driver kidnapped her and gang-raped her along with two men. Turkos believes that Lyft is obstructing justice by not cooperating with law enforcement. 

Moreover, she believes that the driver who raped her has continued to work for the company for years. This is her story. 

Alison Turkos tells her story in Medium

“In the fall of 2017, I got into a Lyft after a night out with friends. All I wanted to do was get home safely and go to bed. This was supposed to be the safer option than walking home or taking the subway late at night alone. What should have been a 15-minute drive, turned into an 80-minute living nightmare,” Turkos wrote in an essay for Medium

Turkos says her Lyft driver kidnapped her at gunpoint, drove her across state lines, and the driver along with two other men (at least) raped her. 

Apologies for the “inconvenience”

Turkos reported the kidnapping to Lyft within 24 hours. Turkos claims they merely apologized for the inconvenience. 

“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,’” she wrote. 

She had to pay the $12.81 in carfare. Turkos says the driver who raped her has continued to work for Lyft in the years since. This to her is all the evidence she needs to sue — not to get justice for herself — but to prevent future incidents like it. Lyft must be held accountable. 

Lyft’s inaction is triggering

Turkos reported the rape and kidnapping to the police two days after. But Turkos says the fact that her driver is still out there living consequence-free despite all the evidence (GPS phone tracking, customer service transcript, police reports, DNA of two men), has worsened her PTSD. 

“Lyft’s failure to remove the driver from the app, and allow him to continue driving under a new name and profile has not only exacerbated my PTSD and inability to feel safe, but has also placed other passengers lives at risk,” she wrote. “How many other passengers has this man harmed while on Lyft’s payroll in the two years since I reported?”

Lyft’s Statement

Lyft’s position on the matter? Rape happens to women all the time so it’s not their fault. Another insult to sexual assault survivors everywhere.

“What this rider describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure,” a Lyft spokesperson told Motherboard. “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.” 

Lyft has since added 14 new safety features including in-app emergency assistance and background check monitoring. But this isn’t an isolated incident. Last month, Lyft faced another lawsuit by 14 women who say they were raped by Lyft drivers. This would bring the total to 26 Lyft users since August 1, 2019, who claim Lyft failed to protect them from sexual violence. 

Why Turkos is suing Lyft

Turkos, along with the many other women believe Lyft is purposefully stone-walling their cases. By suing they hope to challenge the processes by which Lyft handles sexual assault claims. 

“The plaintiffs accuse the company of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement and failing to adequately screen potential drivers,” according to CBS. Moreover, multiple women, not only Turkos, claim that the drivers who raped them were allowed to continuing working for the company or that Lyft would not tell them if the driver had been terminated. 

“Lyft’s failure to properly investigate the failures of their system that lead to my kidnapping and rape has severely hampered the ongoing criminal investigation,” Turkos wrote. “Lyft’s feeble public response to viral tweets and other lawsuits has made a mockery of me and the other victims who have come forward. We don’t want partial refunds. We don’t want $5 credits to continue using your service.” 

It cannot go without saying: believe women. There is no glory in coming forward as a rape survivor just more triggering events and more scrutiny. Women do not come forward for attention, they come forward for justice. 

An Incoming International Harvard Student Has Been Denied Entry To The United States

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An Incoming International Harvard Student Has Been Denied Entry To The United States

Cengiz Yar / Getty Images

The Trump administration’s immigration policies are criminalizing survivors, tearing families apart and emboldening racists and xenophobes throughout the country. But President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda is also negatively impacting higher education in the US. According to multiple recent reports, it has become increasingly difficult for international students to receive their visas, also adding a greater workload on universities and their employees who try to help students work through the red tape and advocate on their behalf.

Those in higher education and immigration law say that the process for international students to attain their visas have become harder under Trump.

 According to government data, approval of student visas is down and many remain in limbo for longer periods. The latest available department data show that student visas declined by more than 100 thousand from 2016 to 2018. This has led to an overall decrease in the number of new international students enrolled at US colleges. For instance, survey data collected by the Institute of International Education during the 2016–17 school year found that enrollment of international students fell by 3 percent from the previous year. In the most recent data, which looks at the 2017–18 school year, it fell by close to 7 percent.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators reports that these visa obstacles started after Trump issued a memorandum in 2017 that called for the “heightened screening and vetting of applications for visas and other immigration benefits” as well as new or updated requirements for visa holders studying or working at US colleges. Additionally, the Atlantic reports that changes initiated by the Trump administration in 2018 made it even harder for recent graduates with student visas to continue living in the country legally. 

“I’ve been in the field for almost 20 years, and the amount of immigration changes during the last three years has been exponential,” Kristy Magner, who oversees Tulane University’s Office of International Students and Scholars, told the publication. 

One of the most high-profile cases was that of Ismail B. Ajjawi

In August of 2019, the incoming Harvard Palestinian freshman from Lebanon was detained by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a Boston airport. The 17-year-old was denied entry after CBO officers found social media posts from his friends that criticize the US. As a result, Ajjawi’s visa was canceled. However, because the teen was detained at an airport, sparing him from being officially deported, he was able to re-apply for a visa back home. Ten days later, Ajjawi returned to Boston and was able to start school.

Also in August, nine Chinese students who were returning to the US as undergraduate students at Arizona State University were detained at Los Angeles International Airport.

 According to the university, the students were in CBP custody for a week and were “denied admission to the U.S. to continue their studies.” They were ultimately forced to return to China, despite being “academically eligible to return to ASU and to the United States under their visas.”

“[I]t is beyond my comprehension how the U.S. government could establish and implement policies that bring about the outcomes we are now witnessing,” ASU president Michael Crow wrote in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. 

While these cases are among the most extreme, they follow a growing pattern of increased difficulty for international students. 

Many institutions, including New York University, expressed seeing more students denied travel in advance of their trips.

NYU was one of the first schools to establish support for immigrant students upon the start of Trump’s presidency. In January 2017, just days after Trump’s inauguration, it created the Immigrant Defense Initiative, which offers “free, confidential advice and representation” to students and staff who could be at risk for deportation. Other universities, including Columbia University, the California State University system and George Washington University, now also offer free immigration-related legal services for students. 

But students, and now university employees who are tasked with new responsibilities in helping the international academics, need more help. Back in July, Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow sent a letter to Pompeo and McAleenan sharing his grievances. “Students report difficulties getting initial visas — from delays to denials,” he wrote. “Scholars have experienced postponements and disruptions for what have previously been routine immigra­tion processes such as family visas, renewals of status, or clearance for international travel.”

Dr. Hironao Okahana, associate vice president of policy and research analysis at the Council of Graduate Schools, told Teen Vogue the rise in incidents like Ajjawi’s are concerning and worth further investigation. 

“[W]e’ll be carefully observing to see if any additional incidents occur as quarter-system schools begin their term in a few weeks,” he said.

In addition to the denial of visas and slowed-down processes, universities face another problem: Trump’s anti-immigration agenda is stopping international students from applying to US institutions. 

“I think that both [the Trump administration’s] immigration policy and the messaging of the day are literally turning [international] students away … and making them less inclined to want to study in the United States,” Brian Rosenberg, the president of Macalester College, a liberal-arts institution in St. Paul, Minnesota, told the Atlantic.

As a result, some schools are doing additional work to ensure international students that they are welcome at their universities.

Philip A. Glotzbach, the president of Skidmore College, told the Atlantic that his staff has had to “work a lot harder” to recruit and retain international students. Additionally, Barbara K. Altmann, the president of Franklin & Marshall College, said that her school has been taking “extraordinary measures … so international students know [they’re welcome here].” For instance, because one in five students at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, liberal-arts school is from outside of the US, mostly China, it has created a network of Chinese nationals that send reassuring messages to incoming students from the Asian country. 

“These incidents,” said Okahana, “as isolated as they may be, are troubling and have created chilling effects.”

Read: Migrants Are Dying In US Immigration Custody And Here’s What You Need To Know About The Victims