Airbnb reportedly paid a woman $7 million in exchange for not blaming the company for her rape

Airbnb logo.
(Image credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)

A woman who in 2015 was raped by a man who had a copy of the keys to a New York City Airbnb rental she was staying in was paid $7 million by the company in exchange for agreeing not to talk about the settlement or "imply responsibility or liability" on the part of Airbnb or the rental's host, Bloomberg reports, revealing a previously unknown incident.

The agreement did not prevent the woman, whose identity has not been made public, from cooperating with prosecutors, and a spokesperson for Airbnb told Bloomberg that despite the wording of the settlement, she "is able to discuss whether she holds anyone responsible." But, per Bloomberg, the agreement does mean she can't sue the company. Because the woman wasn't the one who rented the apartment — she was traveling with friends — she also hadn't signed Airbnb's lengthy terms of service agreement, so there was an avenue for her to hold the company responsibile without the settlement.

Former Airbnb safety agents suggested the situation may not be all that unique (although the payout was one of the largest the company has made and the terms of service agreement is likely a more common method of keeping things under wraps), telling Bloomberg they estimate the company handles thousands of sexual assault allegations in rental properties every year from guests and hosts. Yet, there's been only one case related to a sexual assault filed against Airbnb in U.S. courts, Bloomberg reports. Read more at Bloomberg.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.