Things That Matter

A California Woman Is Considering Charges Against An Apple Employee After He Sent Photo From Her Phone To Himself

A Bakersfield woman is planning to press legal charges against an Apple store employee who allegedly texted himself a sexual image of the woman from her phone. Gloria Fuentes scheduled an appointment with Apple’s Genius Bar for Nov. 4. She instinctually knew to delete social media apps and bank apps from her phone, knowing her iPhone would be in the hands of a stranger paid to repair her screen. The Apple employee, who she believes is named Nic, messed around with her phone for “quite a while.” She assumed he was just doing his job. Nic tells her that Apple won’t repair the screen, and directs her to her phone provider for further help.

When Fuentes returned home, she noticed that an unknown number was listed in her most recent messages. She views the conversation and “instantly wants to cry.” A single image of a deeply personal nature was sent to the unknown number. Now, she’s pressing charges against the Apple employee.

Gloria Fuentes wants every woman to hear her story, to ensure they, and their daughters, are safe.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“”*****PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!*****,” Fuentes shared in a viral Facebook post. “So last night, I went to Apple in the Valley Plaza (Bakersfield, CA) to get my phone screen repaired and I got a tech guy named Nic, although I’m not positive of the name because the workers there were being super unhelpful.” She recalled her intuition to protect her privacy. “So before I went I kind of had this feeling to delete things from my phone. I deleted any app that had any type of financial information or linked to my bank account in any way and also all of my social media apps because I didn’t want them going through them. I also did a backup before I went and then I was going to delete all the pictures from my phone too but forgot because they were texting me that they moved my appointment time up so I was trying to rush over there.”

The employee had asked for her passcode twice, and she didn’t think anything of it. She was there to have the screen’s hardware repaired. 

Fuentes describes how the violation has impacted her sense of safety.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“I walk in my house turn on my phone about to text someone and realize there’s a message to an unsaved number!!!!! I open it and instantly wanted to cry!!!” she shared in the vulnerable Facebook post. “This guy went through my gallery and sent himself one of my EXTREMELY PERSONAL pictures that I took for my boyfriend and it had my geolocation on so he also knows where I live!!!” The employee is clearly tech-savvy, and would be aware of how geolocations work. If a man has the audacity to sexually violate a woman in this way, it’s reasonable to fear for her safety.

“AND THIS PICTURE WAS FROM ALMOST A YEAR AGO SO HE HAD TO HAVE SCROLLED UP FOR A WHILE TO GET TO THAT PICTURE being that I have over 5,000 pics in my phone!!!!” she exclaimed. “I could not express how disgusted I felt and how long I cried after I saw this!!”

Fuentes went back to the Bakersfield, California Valley Plaza Apple store to confront the man, who admitted that it was his personal number.

Credit: Apple Valley Plaza (2701 Ming Avenue, Bakersfield, CA) / Facebook

“I went back to the store and confronted him and he admits to me that this was his number but that “he doesn’t know how that pic got sent 🤬!!” she shared. There is no reason why an Apple employee’s personal number should ever be in a customer’s phone, let alone personal photos be shared without consent. “The manager just said he’d look into it,” she said. 

Later, Apple confirmed that the store “immediately launched an internal investigation” and fired the employee.

Fuentes has filed a police report with the Bakersfield Police Department, which is actively investigating grounds for criminal charges.

Credit: Bakersfield Police Department / Facebook

Fuentes makes it clear that she’s sharing her story “because iPhones are like a must-have for teens now and I could just imagine that I’m not the only person he’s done this to and what if he’s done this to someone’s teenage daughter or even any other woman at all!!” What’s worse, is that she isn’t sure how many images he sent himself, and that she has “NO CLUE WTH HES GOING TO DO WITH THEM!!!” 

The mother of three said that she’ll be “pressing legal charges against him.” “This makes me cry thinking about it but I think he needs to be held accountable and anyone else that has had him work on their phone should be aware of the fact that there’s a possibility that he’s done this to them!!”

Bakersfield women, you can call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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A California City Is Being Sued Because Of Evictions Of Black And Latino Residents Considered Discriminatory

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A California City Is Being Sued Because Of Evictions Of Black And Latino Residents Considered Discriminatory

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against the city of Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department alleging discrimination against black and Latino renters. The suit, filed earlier this month, takes aim at a 2016 Hesperia rental ordinance that requires landlords to evict tenants who had allegedly committed crimes on or near their property. 

Making matters more troublesome is that the housing law was passed at a time when Hesperia, a Mojave Desert city of just under 100,000 people located 35 miles north of San Bernardino, saw it’s Latino and African-American populations growing. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Latinos living in Hesperia rose 140 percent, and the number of African-Americans by 103 percent, according to Census Bureau data.

The housing law, called the “Crime Free Rental Housing Program” led to the eviction of countless families, including children, for alleged criminal activity that included one tenant or even some non-tenants. This was in addition to the eviction of family members who had reported domestic violence to the police. The housing act even involved allegations from authorities of criminal activity even if the individual wasn’t arrested, charged or convicted. 

According to federal authorities, city councilmembers’ statements in creating the controversial ordinance show that it was designed to reverse “demographic” changes in Hesperia.

The suit, alleges that the housing law was put in place for one primary reason, to drive minorities out of the city of Hesperia. The DOJ is seeking to stop future similarly discriminatory housing laws and for financial compensation for those tenants that were affected by the ordinance. The housing law was put in effect from Jan. 1, 2016 to July 18, 2017.

The DOJ says that the ordinance violated the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability. With the city’s sheriff’s department having determination in which tenants would be evicted, there was an instance when an older Latino couple was removed due to their adult son, who did not live with them, being arrested, the suit said. 

When the measure was initially being drafted, Hesperia Mayor Eric Schmidt made comments about the number of renters that were coming into the city from parts of L.A. County that were known for having large minority populations. According to prosecutors, Schmidt allegedly said that groups left L.A. County  “because it’s a cheap place to live and it’s a place to hide,” and that “the people that aggravate us aren’t from here,” they “come from somewhere else with their tainted history.”

Another questionable comment came from city councilmember Russ Blewett who allegedly said that Hesperia needed to “improve our demographic,” and that he wanted “those kind of people” that the ordinance would particularly target to get “the hell out of our town. 

“I want their butt kicked out of this community as fast as I can possibly humanly get it done,” Blewett said, according to the suit.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances intended to push out African-American and Latino renters because of their race and national origin, or from enforcing their ordinances in a discriminatory manner,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in the press release. “The United States Department of Justice will continue zealously to enforce the Fair Housing Act against anyone and any organization or institution that violates the law’s protections against race, national origin, and other forms of unlawful discrimination.”

As of now, the city of Hesperia has denied any and all wrongdoing in regard to the DOJ lawsuit. 

Rachel Molina, a spokeswoman for the City of Hesperia, told the Victorville Daily Press that the information presented in the DOJ lawsuit is “factually incorrect and grossly misleading.”

“First and foremost, I would like to say that Hesperia is a very diverse community,” Molina said. “We love and embrace diversity in Hesperia. At no time did the City’s crime-free ordinance discriminate against residents of any ethnicity. There are crime-free programs across the United States aimed at providing residents with safer communities — in the recent past HUD supported such programs.”

Before the DOJ filed its own lawsuit, the ACLU took legal action two years ago against the city on similar premises of housing discrimination. 

This isn’t the first time the city and it’s sheriff’s department have faced legal action over the ordinance. Back in 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California filed a suit on the claim that the housing law restricted housing and services for those individuals who had criminal records. In retaliation, Hesperia made adjustments to the law to make the program voluntary for landlords. Just last year, the city agreed to settle with the ACLU lawsuit for $485,000 dollars. 

That lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sharon Green, who leads the Victor Valley Family Resource Center, a housing nonprofit organization. Green told the LA Times that the DOJ suit is important in regards to other cities that might be considering similar discriminatory housing laws. 

The DOJ suit will “send a strong message to cities around the country that they cannot discriminate. Our homeless numbers are far too large and there are far too many obstacles to housing already to be dealing with this kind of foolishness.”

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Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

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Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

Pixabay

Uber has been grappling sexism and sexual assault controversies for years now. After revealing its first safety report, the car service disclosed that users reported 3,045 sexual assaults, of those 235 were rapes, during rides last year. There were also nine murders and 58 people were killed in car accidents. 

The number of outright tragedies reported is less than one percent of total Uber rides, which reached 1.3 billion rides in the United States in 2018, according to the company. Nevertheless, officials at Uber were unsettled by the number of crimes and tragedies. 

Uber relies on the fact that it is accessible and ubiquitous to drivers and riders.

Like other ride-hailing apps, including Lyft and Via, the lynchpin of Uber’s business model is an egalitarian approach to who can use it. This means regulations are often ditched in favor of allowing any driver with a car to work for the company. It means these drivers aren’t screened, and in New York City they don’t require a Taxi medallion like traditional yellow cab drivers. 

When employees (and customers for that matter) aren’t properly audited, sexual assaults, attacks, and murders can become all too common. Uber maintains that the crimes and tragedies aren’t a reflection of Uber’s policies but of society’s. 

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer told the New York Times. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

When the New York Times checked Uber’s safety record against the New York Police Department’s registery of sex crimes and rapes on the city’s transit systems, 553 assaults were reported in 2018. 

There were trends among which crimes drivers committed and which were committed against them. 

While 92 percent of rape victims were riders, murder victims tended to be drivers, riders and other parties. However, both drivers and riders reported other forms of sexual assault at about the same rate, according to Uber’s report. The report categorizes sexual assault into 21 categories that range from unwanted touching to attempted rape to rape. 

“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” the company’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said in the executive summary of the report. “The moment is now for companies to confront it, count it, and work together to end it.”

In April a woman filed a $10 million lawsuit against Uber claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver and as a result is suing the company for negligence and consumer protection violations, according to The Verge. At least 31 drivers have been convicted of various related offenses like assault, rape, false imprisonment and other crimes, according to CNN. Last year, a pedestrian was killed after being hit by a self-driving Uber car. In 2017, an engineer at the company exposed Uber’s corporate culture as sexist leading to an investigation where dozens of employees were fired. 

Uber has begun implementing more steps to protect passengers and drivers.

Uber’s reputation has been overshadowed by seemingly countless incidences of sexual assaults and the report has not pacified all of their critics. Nevertheless, many are praising the company for disclosing such information warts and all. 

“The more that the public is aware, the more the company and everyone else has to respond,” Jeanne Christensen, whose law firm represented rape victims in cases against Uber, told the New York Times. “It’s such a part of daily life that everyone is going to take it. We’re already at that point. So now they just have to make it as safe as possible.”

Uber has been taking steps over the past 21 months to document and prevent more safety violations. In the app, they added a panic button so that passengers can directly call 911 and provide them with their location. Riders can also use check-ins if their driver appears to be taking a suspicious route. 

“All of those steps are starters because these ride-hailing companies have been abjectly failing in their duty to protect against predators or criminals,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told the New York Times

The company has partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to determine its best course of action. Since 2017, the company has tripled the staff of its safety team with continued expansion expected. In 2020, it will roll out a hotline with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. 

“The numbers in the report are not surprising because sexual violence permeates all aspects of our society, whether that’s ride-share or Metro or taxi or a workplace,” Allison Randall of the National Network to End Domestic Violence told Washington Post. “This is definitely the start of a conversation.”