Rape Victim Sues Uber, CEO and Top Execs
"Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture," said a lawyer for Jane Doe.
A woman who was raped by an Uber driver is now suing the company and three of its top executives, including CEO Travis Kalanick (who is currently on a leave of absence), for mishandling her medical records.
Also named on the suit are Eric Alexander and Emil Michael. Alexander, the company's former top executive in Asia, was fired last week for his involvement in the incident. And Michael, former SVP of business and reportedly a very close confidante of Kalanick, also just left the company. Michael was rumored to have known about the medical report as well.
Kalanick announced Tuesday he will be taking a leave of absence for an undetermined length of time.
Incidentally, reallocating Travis Kalanick's responsibilities was the first recommendation from a report by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The woman, known only as Jane Doe, was raped by an Uber driver in India in 2014. She sued the company and settled for an undisclosed amount in 2015.
This time Doe, who currently resides in Texas, is filing charges for intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts and defamation of her character.
"Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture," said Douglas Wigdor, an attorney for Doe, in a statement. "Hopefully, this lawsuit coupled with the changes recommended by the independent counsel will create real change and reform at Uber and elsewhere."
Uber came under sharp scrutiny at the time of Doe's rape because her attacker, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was discovered to have had numerous prior charges on his record. The incident brought to light the veracity of Uber's background checks. The ride-hailing company was banned from operating in India for a short time.
Despite a public statement of support for the victim at the time of the rape, a very different story was allegedly going on behind closed doors at Uber. According to the lawsuit, executives at the company privately surmised that Doe fabricated the story with a rival ride-hailing service to hurt Uber.
The filing states that Kalanick, Michael and Alexander all "bought into the narrative of rape denialism which focuses on whether a victim had been drinking, what she was wearing, or whether she knew the alleged rapist, rather than on the very real physical, emotional and financial toll that rape takes on a victim."
"Indeed, only by discrediting Jane Doe's account of what happened, including her medical records about the rape, could Kalanick, Alexander and Michael have contrived such an irrational and fictitious story about a rival ride-sharing company being involved in her rape account," the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, following the assault Alexander went to India, obtained the records and shared them with Kalanick and Michael. It is still unknown how Alexander obtained the records in the first place.
"Alexander, Kalanick and Michael discussed the records among themselves andwith other staff at Uber, speculating that Plaintiff had made up the brutal rape in collusion with arival of Uber in India in order to undermine Uber's business," the lawsuit reads.
"Nothing was further from the truth."
Doe's attacker was sentenced to life in prison for his crime.
A police officer who was in charge of investigating Doe's attack, Madhur Verma, told The Guardian there was "no reason" for Alexander to have Doe's records.
"Had [Uber] applied for permission" for the records, "police would never have given it," Verma said.
Uber currently has many vacancies in its leadership ranks. What Kalanick's role will be during his absence, which has no timeline, is unclear. His responsibilities will be left to his direct reports, according to a letter received by Uber staff, but Kalanick "will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions." A source told Reuters that Kalanick is free to return to the company anytime.
Lack of diversity was always at the core of Uber's problems.
Meanwhile, the company is searching for a COO and has several board seats to fill. One member, David Bonderman, resigned this week after making a sexist remark to a fellow board member. He called the remark "careless, inappropriate and inexcusable."
But given Uber's "boy's club" culture, reflected in its current board of directors, Bonderman's comment may not have seemed out of place to him.
Last year Huffington, former executive editor and co-founder of The Huffington Post, was the first woman to join Uber's board since it was founded in 2009. For seven years, the company did not have a woman on its board.
Had Uber had more gender diversity in its top ranks, perhaps Doe's case would have been handled appropriately — and perhaps numerous other missteps made by the company would have been avoided.
Travis Kalanick wrote a memo to employees that included the "do's and don'ts" of having sex with colleagues at company gatherings.
Last week Recode obtained an email that Kalanick sent to staff members in 2013 about the "do's and don'ts" of employee sex rules on a company trip to Miami to celebrate the company expanding to its 50th global city.
Kalanick told employees to "Have a great f**king time" and also cautioned:
"Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic 'YES! I will have sex with you' AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML."
Powerful white men covering their tracks.
Former gymnastics president Steve Penny was arrested Wednesday for covering up evidence about misconduct concerning Larry Nassar at a Texas training center.
He was indicted for ordering the destruction of or hiding of documents pertaining to Nassar's sexual assault of young female gymnasts, including Simone Biles. The documents are still missing after being delivered to him in Indiana.
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"We can't wait for white folks to decide our trauma is worth focusing on," Burke said.
Tarana Burke is reflecting on the movement she created more than 12 years ago, but it's only been one year since its historic rise worldwide. It has led to women speaking out very publicly against assault. And now that it's been endorsed by the upper echelons of white women, we can celebrate its existence.
On Monday, Burke wrote on Twitter that her work supports all sexual assault survivors, but it "has always centered on Black and Brown women and girls. And it always will…"
My work has always centered Black and Brown women and girls. And it always will - but at the heart of it all it supports ALL survivors of sexual violence. And I committed to that work a long time ago so watching people open up with what felt like no covering online was hard. +
— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) October 15, 2018
So when she heard about Lee Daniels making a Me Too comedy, she expressed objections, saying, "We have to get in front of that."
"To put Me Too and comedy in the same sentence is so deeply offensive… that you think in this moment when we're still unpacking the issue that you can write a comedy about it."
Burke doesn't think the media really cares about the stories of Black women and other women of color.
"We can't wait for white folks to decide that our trauma is worth centering on when we know that it's happening," she told the New York Times.
"We know that there are people, whether they're in entertainment or not, who are ravaging our community. We have to be proactive, unfortunately without the benefit of massive exposure. That's our reality, but it always has been."
The majority of Black women in Hollywood have kept their experiences with sexual assault a secret. But there are a few exceptions.
Gabrielle Union has been, according to Burke, the only woman who not only speaks about her story but also advocates. Few others — Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Fantasia Barrino, and Lupita Nyong'o — have talked about it publicly.
"There is knowing that even if you're not trying to bring down a Black man, a large segment of the population will say 'We don't believe her' because of all these things that we normalize," Burke said.
She recalled when a reporter wanted to do a story on R. Kelly and no one would go on record.
"A lot of folks have slid under the radar," she commented.
While she believes the Black community has doubled down on that thinking, she does note progress.
"You could not have had this kind of public discourse with this many people saying that they believe us — we literally have an example in Anita Hill," she told Paper Magazine. "We don't even have to guess what it would've been like or could've been like or what people would've said 20 years ago, we saw it."
In collaboration with the New York Women's Foundation, Burke's Me Too is helping to fund groups serving communities of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.
The "Fund for the MeToo Movement and Allies," awarded $840,000 to the DC Rape Crisis center in Washington, the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective in Los Angeles, the Firecracker Foundation in Lansing, Michigan, Black Women's Blueprint and the Violence Intervention Program, both in New York; Equality Labs, a national group; and the Los Angeles-based FreeFrom, which works with survivors of domestic violence.
The partnership's goal is to raise $5 million per year.
"This is about supporting the people who support the people," Burke said.
Reader Question: Why do you think Black women's stories of sexual assault have been largely unheard or drowned out?
Frederick Gaston told authorities sex is a "perk" of the job.
After extreme backlash, Mitchell Langbert is now claiming his blog post was satire.
Students at Brooklyn College are calling for the firing of Mitchell Langbert, a long-time associate professor of business, for his inflammatory blog post regarding Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
"What made this monster even more reprehensible was that he was the very doctor who delivered me," wrote Chung.
Amid President Trump and Republicans questioning Christine Blasey Ford's remembrance of the alleged sexual assault, but not the exact details of when, women have come out sharing their vulnerable selves and accounts of assault to support Ford.
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Misogyny in full force.
Kevin Jackson, a Black Fox News contributor, was fired for his Twitter comments during the hearings about the women who accused Kavanaugh of assault and misconduct.
"#ChristineBlaseyFord academic problems came from her PROMISCUITY!" he wrote on Twitter during the Senate appearance. "Dang girl stop opening your legs and OPEN A BOOK!"
Black women keep watch and push forward as Ford's day in court proves to be a far cry from 1991.
For every woman of color who watched the hearing today, or has followed any of the drama up to this point, our backs are heavy.
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'I am terrified': Ford Releases Opening Statement Ahead of Senate Hearing on Sexual Assault Allegations
DiversityInc provides updates on the hearing in progress.
UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. ET
The Senate Judiciary Committee has ended their questions for Ford. The committee is now on a 45-minute recess.
Mitchell ends by essentially saying this whole proceeding is crap. Strong finish.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) September 27, 2018
UPDATE: 2:06 p.m. ET
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to Ford: "I believe you. You are a true patriot."
UPDATE: 1:55 p.m. ET
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) speaks to Ford:
"This is not a legal proceeding. You're here out of a civic duty. It's more than that. You have received vicious, hateful threats, death threats.
"By your courage, you are affecting the culture of our country. There are dark elements that allow sexual assault that are affecting girls and boys and men and women from corporations, to service in restaurants, etc.
"There are hundreds of thousands of people watching. You are speaking truth that this country needs to understand. And how we deal with survivors that come forward is unacceptable. It allows for the continued [abuse] … This is a lifetime appointment."
Ford: "I wish I could be more helpful, and others could be more helpful, and that we can collaborate to get more information."
UPDATE: 1:45 p.m. ET
Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor, questions Ford on behalf of Republicans. Mitchell asks questions as if it were a criminal trial. But this is not a criminal trial. This a confirmation hearing.
"Is there a political motivation in your coming forward?" she asked Ford.
"I was trying to get the information to you when there were other qualified candidates," Ford responded.
tweet from a veteran DC sex crimes prosecutor -->> https://t.co/zWN8kklM00
— Mary Louise Kelly (@NPRKelly) September 27, 2018
UPDATE: 1:36 p.m. ET
The hearing has resumed after a lunch break.
UPDATE: 12:45 p.m. ET
This is what Christine Blasey Ford is looking at as she describes her sexual assault. pic.twitter.com/GGxmuHnNpZ
— Osita Nwanevu (@OsitaNwanevu) September 27, 2018
UPDATE: 11:40 a.m. ET
Christine Blasey Ford provided her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford testified that it's "absolutely not" a case of mistaken identity that it was Brett Kavanaugh who tried to cover her mouth to prevent her from screaming.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked her how she could be so sure.
Ford answered: "The same way that I'm sure I'm talking to you right now. Basic memory functions."
Reaction on Twitter regarding Ford's testimony:
Very smart analysis of memory by Dr. Ford. Not sure how often hippocampus is used in a hearing of this nature. #KavanaughHearings
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) September 27, 2018
My phone is full of texts of crying women. I love you survivors and I believe you. I'm sorry we all have to go through this TRAUMA because in many ways this hearing is collectively traumatizing survivors but I am so proud of Dr. Ford. #KavanaughHearings #MeToo
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) September 27, 2018
#KavanaughHearings Dr Christine Blasey Ford has been courageous, dignified and completely believable. She deserves so much credit for coming forward in such difficult circumstances.
— Mike Daly (@MikeDaly62) September 27, 2018
Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers released the prepared testimony for Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about her sexual assault allegations against President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
"I am here today not because I want to be," Ford will say in her statement. "I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school."
She describes her accusations in full detail:
"I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes.
"He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming."
The hearing will start at 10 a.m. E.T. and Ford will testify first, after opening remarks. After the 21-member committee finishes asking their questions of Ford, theKavanaugh will go next. The proceedings are expected to last into the afternoon.
Read the text of Ford's opening statement below:
Written Testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
United States Senate Judiciary Committee
September 26, 2018
Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, Members of the Committee. My name is Christine Blasey Ford. I am a Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University and a Research Psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.